Why I Like Having A Poor Memory

Having been chided for most of my life for having a poor memory, I’ve found it comforting recently to know that in some ways it can actually be beneficial. It’s been nice being able to forget some less than amazing memories while the more special ones stick around for a while. Previously I had only viewed my memory as a negative, a sieve that lets everything through, regardless of content. The more I’ve considered it, though, the more I recognize that it’s there and working, just that it only likes to keep certain memories near the top and more easily accessible.

And because of my computer background, it may help to explain my memory with a simple *pointers analogy. It’s as if my mind keeps an array of pointers to the actual memories. And it’s also as if this array has many of these pointers missing, leaving unrecoverable memory. However, unlike computer memory, usually with a simple reminder that pointer can be reestablished and the memory works as intended. So, while it’s not a complete memory it isn’t completely worthless either.

Today’s Technology Chasm

Tonight I attended a lecture held by two professors titled “Cyber Politics: Power, Knowledge and Piracy in the Digital Age”. It was intended to be an expose highlighting how people in countries such as Egypt and Sweden had used technology to spread ideas and information nearly as quickly as that information was formed.

To some, the lecture may have been enlightening and covered a subject they held little knowledge about. It could potentially have been an informative experience had one of the professors not already shown how far separated she was from today’s users of technology in terms of internet experience and understanding. Repeatedly we were told that our minds “should be blown right now” when we were told how quickly information is disseminated compared to only 50 years ago.

Are we really to buy this as members of this younger generation? Are we to truly expected be surprised when we’re informed that, yes, a few years ago information did actually take weeks to move a few thousand miles while today it only takes seconds? It’s not that we find it hard to believe, we all understand the physical limits behind moving a letter half-way around the world versus moving electronic signals at the speed of light. It’s that some adults of a generation ago still find this magical and expect us to as well. This is something we’ve been experiencing for years, why should we find it incredible anymore? Yes, we appreciate all that the networks, technology, and bits and bytes have done for us, but we also appreciate microwaves, central heating, and television yet we’re not constantly inundated with calls to appreciate the magic of these things like they’re some sort of new-age gods we don’t fully understand and therefore need to worship and praise with all our will.

It seems high time that we, as a society and population, begin to accept the internet for what it is and all of its amazing capabilities. This way we won’t be so awestruck next time a country such as Egypt is able to organize protests and civil disruption through an internet service which has been around for years. Instead of being completely flabbergasted by this, instead we will be able to aid in more constructive ways and help those who are doing the revolutionizing. This all must begin with an understanding of today’s technology and what it is truly capable of. Then, finally, we will hopefully be able to get past our initial reactions that technology is magical and appreciate it for its original goal: to bring people and information together in ways never before thought possible.

How To Use Amazon MWS To Download Unshipped Order Reports

After spending many hours trying to understand Amazon’s API for accessing reports, I’ve finally come up with a solution. Below is one way to download an unshipped orders report.

Hopefully this example will help others trying to do something similar. Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Converting Visual Basic to C#

For work I’m having to convert about 1600 lines of Visual Basic code to C#. What this code does is attempt to automate our order processing in a unidirectional fashion: it scrapes Amazon for our latest unshipped orders and generates emails or XML (depending on what the distributor requires on their end) for each order. This is a huge pain because nearly each function of the VB is hard-coded and needs to be reworked. While it shouldn’t be that grueling to rework we’re on a tight deadline to integrate it into our existing C# application so that our new customer service representative can use just a single solution instead of many.

Accessing web service through local network

For work, my current task is to create an iPhone application that consumes an .asmx Web Service. After building a very rudimentary Web Service using Visual Studio 2008, I published it to the local network via IIS (an explanation on that setup if people would like). I wanted to be able to see the Web Service through the network on my Mac. After numerous attempts I discovered all I had to do was just type in the local IP address of the PC on which the service was running, followed by the path in which the file was. For me, this turned out to be:

Imagine my excitement after hours of troubleshooting why the network wouldn’t resolve this IP address and suddenly it just works. Now, imagine my disappointment when I see the following page:

The service is only available from the local machine. After all that time, no payoff. Now I must find a suitable web provider that hosts .NET applications (careful, not every web host is capable of hosting .asmx pages) and go from there.

Hope this helps.