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Main reason is the fact that I can’t use Adsens to make a few cents off this blog (not that it would be much but it goes towards advertising my other venture). In the meantime JRoller improved its performance considerably while wordpress has slightly deteriorated…

So anyway my jroller blog is at: http://jroller.com/page/vprise.

Orange is constantly categorized as one of the leading brands in Israel and as one of the best service oriented companies by well known financial papers in this country. The problem is that the people writing these things have absolutely no idea what a brand is and that Orange is running itself into the ground.

I have rarely been more upset at a service provider in my life and that includes Bezeq who is the much hated Israeli telecom monopoly  who we all despise for holding back the market at our expense. What Orange doesn't get about branding is that while branding has a lot to do with "messages" and "colors" it has more to do with actually listening and going towards what your customers are REALLY asking. Orange doesn't make the slightest effort to help customers or get things done yet their arrogant service helpdesk has its nose in the sky from "winning" all these awards and seems to mistakenly think Orange is "better". It is not, while their service personnel are dressed better and sometimes more polite (not so much as they used to) they do not help at all and when you complain they attack as if the customer is obviously always at fault. Several Orange personnel have specifically said to me that I must be wrong with my claim that their service is bad since they won so many awards… Stupid, these awards are given based on objective parameters such as how fast it takes them to answer the phone. Sometimes they are given based on a survey but this is mostly crap since the survey doesn't know who to ask (yes statistics are complicated when it comes to disgruntled customers).

So far I only spoke in general and didn't give specifics on how terrible their service is, but I have quite a few examples just off the top of my head:

  1. They lie – a sales rep from Orange promised me in front of witnesses that once our companies plan ends our billing will revert to zero. Today they deny that any such guarantee was made, did you get that in writing? I have a huge unreadable contract I had to  sign with Orange and I will not go and track former employees to talk this over with.
  2. They bully – We are an LTD company. So Orange needs a form from a lawyer/accountant that indicates that I'm allowed to sign in the name of the company. Fair enough. So does our bank. However, Orange demanded I update the form (which is good enough for a bank) and started disconnecting our phones and sending threatening SMS messages. This has nothing to do with payment I gave them updated credit card details and it is my own personal credit card! This is just their stick up their ass, no law requires that they have these forms they are NOT a bank!
  3. They are impersonal – Because of this whole "signing form" issue an automated system called all the phones in the company letting all employees know that they may be disconnected. Since we are a small company and I have a good relationship with most of the people working with me this was not a problem. Also because of previous issues I had with Orange I disconnected all the other lines I had given other employees (lucky call by me!), so the damage was minor. I shudder to think about what would have happened if our company had hundreds of employees who suddenly get a voice mail stating that I had "billing problems"! When I complained to an Orange representative about that he claimed that: "That's the situation and it won't change".
  4. They try to block you from using the network in your own way – I buy my own devices, I bought a 3G phone and they refused to replace my SIM since I didn't buy the phone from them. Just by yelling and threatening it was "suddenly" possible… This is a story I heared from lots of people, why do I need to yell at them and then be blocked from their 3G systems such as OBOX (which sucks anyway).
  5. They are ignorant – They don't know anything about phones… A representative told me that if I put my 3G sim into a 2G phone I might ruin the phone! He also claimed that I should still have GPRS with my account (this was a data connectivity expert mind you) which I was obviously disconnected from. Having talked with many of their representatives they don't know shit.
  6. They steal – After finishing my first 3 year contract with Orange I got a nice letter offering me to upgrade my phone. I had bought a phone for my mother and wanted to upgrade it so I went with that letter to the Orange center and they convinced me that I should pay 800NIS for a phone upgrade (the lowest end Nokia). A day later I walked in the mall and I saw a brand new Nokia phone that was technically better for 600NIS with a SIM card! When asking the representative they admitted that I could have bought that BETTER PHONE for LESS! They would not reimburse me or apologize for that, they did stop this practice though, but they still steal in different ways.
  7. They make claims they can't keep – they always promise that they will have newer devices that just never arrive. Their availability of devices is just terrible.
  8. They send you around – I talked over the phone with a representative who told me that Orange can fix my Treo device which I bought on my own. So I went to the Orange center and they were very rude and claimed that no such thing exists… Just sending me around without an apology or anything!

This is just the tip of the iceberg trust me when I say there is much more and these guys REALLY SUCK! 

Before I go on I'd like to mention that I'm still an Orange customer, there is one other GSM provider which is pretty bad too. I don't want to switch phone numbers just to go to another company whose just as bad!

Why Orange will collapse… Skype and Google will evolve to allow true VoIP over wireless lan. I don't need coverage everywhere, I just need some reasonable access and most places I go to already have a wireless lan around. With the evolution of these technologies things are starting to emerge and the cellular providers will need to compete with a very competitive market. With WiMax and AdHoc networking/billing solutions offered by communications giants anyone will be able to become a part of a global network and start making money. The way I see it, within 10 years the communication market will change completely and these guys will actually have to compete! Fuck them!

I tried to respond to “Russ Olsen’s” blog but was unable to do it since jroller decisded to label me as a spammer… That should teach me about going to a JRoller site again!
Anyway he wrote about how gread dynamic languages are and I just had to respond to his post http://jroller.com/page/rolsen?entry=who_s_afraid_of_dynamic
Here is my response as is without a change:

Where do I begin… First we agree on one thing, as engineers we should talk about facts and everything has its place even dynamic types.
However, I have to say that I HATE dynamic typing. Yes I know I’m an engineer I should use facts rather than emotions but having spent ages debuging dynamic languages when I was younger this is something I’m very passionate about:

1. You mentioned the word “token” to indicate redundancy. This is missleading in a big way, in a compiled language like Java this additional token will cost almost nothing and in an interpreted language the additional cost of another token to parse will be offset by some of the optimizations the interpreter can make thanks to this additional hint to the interpreter.

2. In your example you give the example of the “isEmpty” method which really indicates that you could have a “MesurableLength” interface that objects should implement.

3. Strong typing is the basis of Java’s dynamic security actually one of the first well known security bugs in Java was caused by illegal casts that weren’t checked by the verifier.

4. The strong typing in Java enables some of the exceptional JIT runtime optimizations available in Java.

5. Strong typing prevents bugs. Unit testing is never EVER capable of reaching 100% code coverage on a well designed complete real world application.

I’ll take your example and raise you one. Say you have an object that represents a stack of Strings and you pass it by mistake to the “isEmpty” method instead of the first string within that stack. The stack allows you to invoke methods on the string such as to determine its size() but the length method is used to determine the length of the stack… So you will get an answer of false when the result can be true.
In your example you gave a case of a missing method which is easy to find, but the truly problematic case is the one where objects get mixed up and that happens quite a bit! Especially when following good programming practices and naming everything consistently!

This “new” scripting language craze is a standard trend that gets rehashed every 7 or so years (and I have the old DDJ magazines to prove it), it is a craze that only happens in the mind of hackers… Few software companies or corporations ever buy into this since it is pointless for anything other than “glue” code the duct tape. I think duct tape has a very important role in keeping corporations and the internet itself going, but to build a truly large mission critical system on top of a scripting language would be corporate suacide.

Some people don’t realize how successful cell phone gaming really is, its amazing how many games are available for J2ME on a mobile phone and how sophisticated these games are. As a developer who ported VM’s to mobile phones and has built games I am still amazed at what my peers in the cell phone game industry are capable of with the API’s we are offering them.

I expected the N-Gage to fail, it was just a badly executed move from Nokia in a direction that contradicts what people want. Nokia tried to push into a market with 2 strong and cheap competitors with an expensive low grade product, its only advantage was that it contained a bad phone attached to the low quality gaming device… No serios phone user who is a part time gamer would touch this thing, it was a terrible phone (even the second version wasn’t great) and no serios gamer would touch that thing it was bulky and didn’t provide great graphics or gaming experience. So without the “core” users to push the platform very few people bought it, most of the people who did got it because they had a good “deal” with the operator but Nokia just made so many mistakes…

What Nokia should have done:

  1. Use open standards such as Java. The Java implementation on the phone was old and to make a decent game you had to use C++ which means you have to program specifically for that small phone family Symbian binary compatibility across versions leaves something to be desired and this caused even the second generation N-Gage to use an older version of the OS to maintain compatibility with the first phone. By using Java and a 3D API in Java Nokia could have offered virtual 3D worlds over the network which is something no one had in any mobile device.
  2. Learn from the Japanese, they have API’s for motion sensors GPS’s and loads of other features that are used by games inside phones considerably smaller than the N-Gage… They stuck in a radio when they should have a motion sensor that allows you to swing your arm to hit a golf ball… Cool features sell devices, they needed to diffrentiate from the guys at Sony/Nintendo (also Japanese people but they didn’t produce a cell phone…).
  3. Don’t build a game pad that is also a phone. Who would use such a thing??? Only kids and for them its too bulky. Today even my mother inlaw plays video games. She wouldn’t own such a phone because its unattractive and bulky, make a creative design use sliders and other features to allow people to make it look like a standard phone when they don’t want to appear geeky.
  4. Get games out there. When IBM built the first PC they went to Sierra and paid them 1 million dollars to develop kings quest 1, I think that investment paid off. MMORPG’s are a huge hit, they should have at least one hit “world” out there.
  5. Strike “gamer deals” with carriers so network traffic for all games or some games will only carry a fixed low monthly fee. Make playing over the network so cheap that people will use it and get used to it.

There is much more they could have done, too bad they made the wrong choices all round.

Up until now I’ve been using JRoller for blogging and I just couldn’t maintain a blog it was just sooooo slooooooow! Unbearably slow.

It became so annoying I didn’t even blog about going to India despite my lengthy visit to the Bangalore-Mysore region (together with my SO Maya Gross who is an Ashtanga Yoga instructor and went to study with Patahabi Jois). During my stay in India I read two books (bought a shitload of books since they are just so cheap there) the first book is “The world is flat” and the second one was “Freakonomics”. I loved “Freakonomics” many of the things it mentioned are obvious but not noticeable, I really liked the discussion about incentive which is something I don’t pay enough attention to.

I hated “The world is flat”, that book (while very well written) is filled with trivial ideas, mistakes, inaccuracies and half truths. I liked reading it at first since the writing style is so good and fluent but I got really annoyed by the repetitiveness of the book and the constant need to scream at the author that he is completely wrong! Here is how the book is wrong:

  • Yes the world is flat (in the sense that the book intends). Duh, where have you been living. Since the author is quite familiar with Israel I am shocked he did not see this years ago. This is something that started here even before the Internet revolution and is still going on.
  • The book claims salaries are significantly lower in India/China etc… This is just wrong, it might have been true when the first jobs started moving out, it was true for Israel when high tech jobs started moving into here. It is no longer true for Israel and it is rapidly becoming so in India (same for China at a slower pace due to government intervention). The more skilled people are they demand more money, yes a dollar carries much more weight in India but having been in the town of Mysore (145km from Bangalore) prices are 1/10 of the prices in Bangalore. I paid for my hotel room in Bangalore (which was the cheapest room in the hotel) $300 per night!!! More than I paid for a boutique hotel in Paris! So yes it was a great hotel (it had better be for those prices) but for $300 I’d expect something amazing (it was somewhat better than a $300 hotel in the west, not much better). One of the main problems people complain about in India is that all these hi tech people are shooting real estate through the roof and causing prices to jump so high no normal person can afford them. You want hard numbers then fine, I talked with several outsourcing companies that listed prices that are about 1/2 the price of a programmer in silicone valley. 1/2 price might sound cheap until you take into consideration the fact that these people have a different mentality and tend to require greater overhead to work with, the back and forth will negate any such saving.
  • The book claims that people in India/China are more qualified since there is a larger pool of human resources to pull from. The strength of numbers is just stupid in this case, how does he explain the amazing success of Israel with 6 million citizens? This is without a doubt the dumbest of his arguments since it equates every one of the 1 billion starving uneducated remote Indian children (1.3 for China) to the 250 well fed with a decent school in the states. The people who get into high tech are from the higher classes in these countries and from there the pool of people is considerably smaller, since the states have a HUGE middle class (which only now is coming into existence in both India and China) the US actually has a huge advantage in terms of pool of people to pick from (not that it really matters).
  • People from these regions are hungry (metaphorically) for work and have a better work ethic. This is debatable, since conditions are improving in both China and India the skilled workers are fast becoming spoiled just like in the west and are savvy to switching jobs for better conditions. Yes they do tend to work longer hours since that is the mentality in these regions (same with the Japanese) but they don’t produce as much. As an Israeli who worked with such cultures I can say I put in 3/4 of the time and produced at least twice the deliverables. These cultures don’t teach how to rest and regain strength/motivation which is something the US culture (and the Israeli which is very similar) knows, the power of motivation and using your time.
  • Indian people are practicing US accents to service American customers better. I guess the author met these people, having worked with American companies that employed Indian/Chinese engineers and support lines I have to say that I didn’t run into these cases. I met Indian people with wonderful western accents that were gained by living outside of India (where they obviously made US salaries). So I still have to ask them to send me a copy by E-Mail.
  • IIT the Indian Institute of Technology is a fine initiative. The author calls it revolutionary but I personally think its a robot factory, I guess its a matter of opinion.

Anyway this is all off the top of my head, don’t buy that book its a waste of your money in my opinion.