Thursday, May 29, 2008

5MB Hard Disk!

I stumbled on this picture of an IBM 5 MB hard disk drive, made back in 1956! In September 1956, IBM launched the 305 RAMAC, the first computer with a hard disk drive (HDD). The HDD weighed over a ton and stored a whopping 5MB.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Ticket Reservation in Nigeria

I chose to visit PH this weekend, PH (Port Harcourt) is one of Nigeria's oil rich region. Its a coding weekend, lots of Python code for those who know what I'm talking about.
I made a reservation, luckily I decided to call customer care of Arik air after the online booking.

Point No 1: There is no way to make a payment online, there is an option to confirm though, so I confirmed.

Then I called customer care, truly I was not too shocked to hear that all bookings will be discarded that night, at least for those of us who made online booking.

Lesson 1: Online reservation is a waste of valuable time.

I got the cue though, so I made one friend of mine (poor guy) get the ticket very early the next morning. booked me on the last flight for the day. I got to the airport late, or just on time for the flight, which is still late because there is no room for check-in.
I was told the flight was fully booked!

Lesson 2: Paying for the ticket does not guarantee you will make the flight.

I think they usually sell more tickets than there are seats. So if you don't show up you are advised to re-schedule for the next flight.
That was the last flight of the day I just missed, so no Friday night in PH for me, I did try to re-schedule though, and was asked to just "re-present" ticket the following day, and that would be all. Hmm, how sweet of Arik air, after all, the seats were fully occupied, so I don't get to pay extra, just rescheduled, fair enough.

I got there early enough the following morning, got to the front of the queue to get a boarding pass, and someone raises an alarm that it was yesterday's ticket. "Sir", she yelled, "you have to go pay N3, 000 extra".

Lesson 3: Nothing is free man, nothing! and don't trust the airlines.

And I had to wait to get to the front to know. I thought I would just add a knowlegde base article here for them, so I wrote this. And luckily, I managed to get N3k from my pockets, what if I didn't have enough money, wow. And I was running late, and the guys were rude at the payment, warned me severely too to wait for the next flight, because, he reasons correctly, I will have to pay another N3k if I miss this flight. He added something like, "And don't come back crying to me".

Finally I'm on board the first flight to PH, and got a good view of gas flaring, 2 really tall pillars of fire where two wells were being flared. It looked so cool from the sky for something that is just not good for the environment.

I will link this to postcard from Lagos, as one of the intrigues of settling down in Nigeria, after years in the Yankees (US) or Jand (UK).

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Google-Like Workplace

I pondered on what would be the kind of workplace that would be ideal for a developer growing old and getting tired of doing chore-like, so called "Enterprise scale" development for a company whose primary business is not software development.

Let's play with the metrics first.

Majority in-house are driven by money and the next big job. True, I'm motivated by money too but the next big job for me would not be another telecoms firm. At most telcos, the dba is king. They mine and manage tons of call history data all day long, which is alright, I mean that's where the money come from. Luckily we get a lot of respect as developers and surprisingly all the liberty I need too. I don't even mind that a lot of people in senior management are less techie and earn more, but that's normal too!
So, the only painful part is that there is too much segregation and they remind me all the time that I'm a "mere specialist". Only managers can park close to the office among other little annoying things. It took me 20minutes deliberating if I should come in this night cos I wander if I would be made to park at a building a few meters off at this hour. I don't even drive to work because of this.
So, when I own a business, I will play down positions and all that, developers have pride the size of everest.