Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Conversations with Genius on my iPod

I finally upgraded my iPod. I've been needing more space for ages, but when the Classic came out it had user interface issues (stutters) and the price point for the 160GB version was a tad high. I played with one of the new 120GBs, though, and they fixed both the stutter and the price point, so I bought. This iPod has built-in Genius playlist building. I thought that would be fun to play with. It went like this...

Me: "OK, let's see what you've got. I figure if I start with 'Escape (The Pina Colada Song)' you should hit Jimmy Buffet within 3 songs. Go"

iPod: "Steve Miller Band - The Joker"

Me: "That works."

iPod: "Gary Wright - Dream Weaver"

Me: "Umm, OK."

iPod: "Jimmy Buffett - Margaritaville"

Me: "There it is. Well done."

iPod: "Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - I Love Rock and Roll"

Me: "What? That's not even close. Are you insane?"

iPod: "Me insane? You're the one having a conversation with an iPod."

Me: "Bite me. New genre. Coal Chamber - Fiend. Go."

iPod: "Korn - Wake Up Hate, then Kittie - In Winter, then Dope's cover of You Spin Me 'Round."

Me: "Whoa. That last one I never would have thought of, but it totally works. Well done."

iPod: "Well, I am a Genius."

Me: "OK Genius, try this. Jocelyn Pook - Masked Ball."

iPod: "WTF is that?"

Me: "It's that really cool dark brooding music from the masked ball in Eyes Wide Shut."

iPod: "Like that helps. You do know that I don't watch movies, right? Anyway, not only does it not sound like anything else in your collection, I don't think it sounds like anything else period. So here, have a list of completely random songs."

Me: "Sigh. OK, another new genre. The Crystal Method - Murder. Go."

iPod: "Leftfield - Song of Life, then Propellerheads - Bang On!, the Goldfrapp - Hairy Trees."

Me: "Nicely done."

iPod: "Thanks."

Me: "Another new genre. In-Grid - Pour Toujours. Go"

iPod: "French electronic? Seriously?"

Me: "Why are you being judgemental?"

iPod: "I'm not. You do know that you are having this conversation with yourself, right? Anyway, how about Bond - Hungarian, then Bond - Samba, then Aurora - Real Life."

Me: "OK, that works, I guess. But do you have something against French music or something? Edith Piaf - L' Homme A La Moto. Go."

iPod: "Genius is unavailable for the selected song."

Me: "Ha! Got you. At least that's better than random songs. OK, let's try something different. Alien Ant Farm's cover of Smooth Criminal. Go."

iPod: "OK, how about System of a Down - Chop Suey!, then Disturbed - Land of Confusion, then Dead or Alive - You Spin Me 'Round."

Me: "Another cover of You Spin Me 'Round? It works I guess, but why?"

iPod: "Why? It's your music, Bub."

Me: "Sigh. Chris Thile - Stealing Second."

iPod: "Sheryl Crow - Steve McQueen"

Me: "Huh? I give you instrumental bluegrass and you give me Sheryl Crow?"

iPod: "R.E.M. - Rockville"

Me: "Still not even close."

iPod: "Neil Young - Sugar Mountain? The Grateful Dead - Franklin's Tower? Kings of Convenience - I'd Rather Dance With You? You know - it's not my fault if you don't have any similar music."

Me: "I have a dozen instrumental bluegrass albums and a couple dozen instrumental celtic albums that would be way closer than anything you've shown me."

iPod: "Yeah, whatever."

Me: "OK, one more. Yo-Yo Ma - Elgar Cello Concerto."

iPod: "Yo-Yo Ma - Gershwin Prelude #1, then Jian Wang - Suite No 2 in D Minor, then Hayley Westenra - Wuthering Heights."

Me: "The first two are great, the last one though? That's a cover of a Kate Bush song."

iPod: "By a classical musician."

Me: "That's the tie? That's stupid."

iPod: "Whatever."

Note: The idea of turning this into a conversation with my iPod was totally stolen from Wil Wheaton's twittering.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Faith in Humanity, Restored

Will and I were munching on some tasty Kelly's Roast Beef sandwiches tonight. We were almost done when a woman walks up and says, "Do you have a green Legacy parked outside?"

Oops. That can't be good.

"Yes, I do."

"I am afraid that I backed into it. I don't see any damage, but maybe you should come out and look for yourself. I was going to leave a note, but it is raining and I was afraid the note would dissolve."

So we went out and looked. I think she scraped a little dust off my bumper. Seriously, no damage at all.

"I don't see anything. Forget about it."

"Are you sure? You could take my name and number in case you notice something later."

I've never seen this woman before and we were eating in the back corner of the restaurant, so she must have walked through the whole place asking people if they had a green Legacy.

Apparently someone actually totaled her car once in a parking lot and just took off, so she is particularly sensitive to parking lot incidents. But still, what a great thing to do.


Thoughts On Software Testing

I have read a bunch of blogs lately about software testing, unit testing, functional testing, etc, including this and this.

There are circular arguments out there that go like this: "Developers can't possibly test their own software because they understand it too well." - "Yes, but developers have to test their own software because only they truly understand it (plus those tests make changes easier)."

These are both true of course.

In my view there are three kinds of testing and people confuse them all of the time.
  1. Unit testing. This is testing written by the developer at the object or module level that proves that the code does what the developer intended it to do. Ideally you should inject dependencies and make the tests fairly shallow.
  2. Integration testing. This is testing that proves that the objects/modules/bits of the software work together as expected. It proves that the internal contracts are being met. This can be written by the developer, but it doesn't have to be. They should probably be written by whoever decided on the contracts. Writing integration tests using JUnit doesn't make them unit tests. These tests can and should be deep. Call stuff at the highest level and prove that everything works all the way down to the lowest level.
  3. Functional testing. This is testing that demonstrates that the software works as it is supposed to. This should never be done by the developer because they do indeed know too much about the software. If the developer tries to do functional testing, they can only prove that the software works as they intended and that is not the point here at all.
These are different things and you need all of them. Automate them if you can with a priority of 1, then 2, then 3.


Test Post

At the moment I am getting an error when attempting to access any "" address (below), but I am able to log into "" and get to the post creation page. Weird.

Monday, November 10, 2008

David's Unofficial Guide To Disney World (For Adults)

The last time I was in Disney World was the early to mid '70s. When I was last there, there was only one theme park, so I wasn't really prepared for how HUGE it has become.

When you are in Vegas, you often hear people saying things like, "Vegas is just Disney for adults." I have always understood this to mean that Vegas is where adults go to play and Disney is where kids go to play. But the similarity is actually much more substantial. All of the changes to Vegas since, say, 1986, represent a real disney-fication of the place. When I was in Disney, I could not help but constantly think, "This is just like Vegas, only bigger."

Anyway, back to Disney World. How huge is it? Disney World is easily bigger than all of Las Vegas put together. It is mind numbingly large. It is mile after mile of fabulously cool imitation reality or pseudo-reality.

There are a few things that adult visitors might want to keep in mind when visiting, though. The biggest is simply the observation that it is an entirely closed system. If you stay at one of the resorts on the Disney property, you will never leave the reach of a single company. Like other closed systems (airports, isolated casinos, etc) you should expect to pay more than normal and have fewer choices. Disney World is big enough that you still have a bewildering array of choices, but not in everything.

Coffee at Disney World

For example, the coffee in Disney World is absolutely wretched. The regular brewed coffee is pretty variable. At its best it only really makes it up to the level of "pretty fair diner coffee", but on the whole you can choke it down if you have to. The espresso is a complete disaster. They have tons of fully automated espresso machines in various locations, but they are not great machines, they contain inferior beans, and they are run by completely untrained "cast members". The "espresso" they put out is almost impossible to swallow. To add insult to injury, the pricing of espresso drinks is outrageous. To add two shots of espresso to a latte, for example, they will charge you the full cost of a double espresso. On the whole, the espresso drinks end up costing about twice as much as Starbucks, but they are about 1/10th as good (if that). This makes the espresso I consumed in the last few days the worst and most expensive coffee I have ever had, bar none. Oh, and did I mention that most places only have non-dairy creamer?

Deb did tons of internet research on the coffee situation before we went, so we went prepared with a pound of Peets coffee and my AeroPress. At least the first cup of the day was decent that way. The coffee maker in our room took the small basket filters and our resort gift shop (Wilderness Lodge) actually sold the filters, so we could have gotten away with just bringing the coffee.

I can confirm that there are two places with decent coffee. At the Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort, they will bring a french press of decent coffee to your table. This doesn't appear on the menu for some reason, so you have to ask for it. Also there is a coffee/desert bar in the Morocco section of Epcot that serves actual handmade espresso. It isn't the best in the world, but it is decent. If you get the Moorish coffee they add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the espresso making it both decent and novel.

Beer at Disney World

I was not expecting to find decent beer (or even any beer) at Disney, but there are a few areas that are actually remarkably good for the beer drinker.

I was surprised and pleased that the various countries in the country showcase offered "local" beer at outdoor stands and you can take a cup to go. This means that it is actually possible to do a round the world walking beer tour. The beers present don't always represent a nation's best, but some are pretty decent. Ironically, the best selection was actually at the American Adventure which was sponsored by the Boston Beer Company who (again ironically) put a better selection of their beer in place there than you can find in all but a few pubs in Boston itself. I had a tasty Black Lager. I also had Guiness, Beck's, and Spaten Optimator (by the liter at the Biergarten) and skipped many more. It is possible that the beer selection is not always as good as my experience, though, since the Food and Wine Festival was underway while we were there.

There is a nice outdoor pub (Raglan Road) at Downtown Disney too. I had a fine pint of Guiness while munching on tasty fish and chips from the next door chip shop.

I never made it to the brewpub on the Boardwalk, but I have to have something to go back for.