The Olympics

I’m very relieved to see that Boston’s Olympic bid is over. Personally, I’m not a sports fan, and have never cared about them, but I’ve also felt that it would be like the 2004 Democratic Convention – great for the money folks, but a huge inconvenience for anyone who actually has to live or work in or around the city. Lots of construction, lots of restrictive security, lots of disruption, lots of money spent on infrastructure with a very short active life.

Given the huge outlays needed to host modern day Olympic Games, I’ve long thought the idea of rotating cities needs to be re-examined. The Olympics need a permanent home. One where they can set up shop with all the facilities the Games need, in exactly the form they need them in. The expense of the infrastructure could be amortized over several sets of Games, and could be gradually grown and improved. Facilities could be custom built for the events they’re designed for, without worrying about winding up with an expensive white elephant that serves no purpose.

The permanent Olympic site would obviously be a draw during the Games, but I also think they would draw tourists during the off years, and facilities could host other events as well.

So where to put the permanent Olympic Games? To my mind, the obvious choice is Greece, their ancestral home, assuming the cost of building it was borne by the International Olympic Committee, and not the Greek government. It would have the added benefit of increasing Greek tourism, which would, hopefully, help the Greek economy dig out of the hole it’s in.

Beta Testing

I was reading a couple of articles this morning on C|Net about beta testing iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. Both articles recommended being wary of beta testing because of the chance of running into bugs. There’s more to it than that though.

I used to beta test software, but stopped doing it quite a while back, mainly because I felt it was too much work for too little reward. I beta tested a couple of games and paint programs for the Apple IIGS, and AOL 3.0 and 4.0 for the Mac. It was nice getting early access to software, but to my mind, if you’re going to be a beta tester, you owe it to the developer to really put the software through its paces, note where something is going wrong, and report what you found. This can take quite a bit of time.

A good example was a problem that turned up with AOL 3, which was a major rewrite designed to bring the Mac software to parity with the Windows software. There was some sort of crashing bug, which I mentioned in passing on the beta message board. The project manager (rightly) took me to task for both being non-descriptive, and not posting a formal bug report. I ended up spending the entire afternoon figuring out what steps I was crashing on, then writing up a description of those steps, and posting it in both the feedback form and the message board. The project manager was nice enough to reply that the report was exactly the kind of detail they were looking for, and that they had found the cause of the bug.

This is all well and good, but eventually I tired of putting in that kind of work testing, and it’s not fair to the developer to beta test if you’re not willing to let them know what you found wrong. I’m perfectly content to wait until the software actually comes out, especially in the case of an operating system.