Like ol’ times

March 25, 2009

I wrote about Sundin’s return to Toronto, and how he rekindled fond memories for myself and fellow Leafs’ fans. Well, last night it was Cujo’s turn. In what was a really surprising turn of events, Cujo also gave Leafs’ fans a stroll down memory lane.

Curtis Joseph (who happens to be my childhood role model and the reason why I started to play hockey) had to fill in for Leafs’ net minder Martin Gerber after he was ejected from the game. Gerber made contact with a referee and shot a puck in his direction after a questionable goal. (From another goaltender’s perspective, I think that the goal should not have counted. Since when can you pitch fork a goalie and the puck into the net? Surely, that’s not right.) In any case, he was gone for the rest of the game (0:57 in the 3rd period). The game was tied, so Joseph had to essentially “close” the game. He received 9 shots in less than 6 minutes of hockey and played a spectacular OT/SO. In the end, he stoned the entertaining Ovechkin to earn the 2 points for the Leafs. He was also the first star of the game.

What was so special about last night was really the atmosphere at the ACC. It must’ve been quite something. As the game progressed, with every spectacular save, the cheers for “Cu-Jo” just kept getting louder and louder. I had never seen or heard such excitement in Leafs’ nation since his last run with the Leafs’. It was like watching the Cujo from 1999 era. You would’ve have never guessed it was a 41 year-old backup. It was a game to remember and Joseph definitely deserved it. I have never seen a hockey player so humble and with so much class. Good memories.

Facebook changed its layout once again this past week.

The concept of changing a website’s layout is nothing new. Every site does it, and it’s a necessary part of its life cycle. However, this “new Facebook” began yet another flood of complaints. It seems like whenever Facebook decides to “improve” (this is debateable) its interface, it generates a big uproar from its users. Just taking a quick glance at my feed, people are already protesting the new design by announcing it through their status or joining those “Bring-the-old-Facebook-back” groups.

I don’t understand why changes to the user interface (UI) always results in a backlash against the social-networking giant. Sure, there was the initial introduction of the News Feed which Mark Zuckerberg later apologized for. But, I’m talking about UI changes where the core functionality remains and only a small subset of features are altered. One could even argue that they were actually trying to improve usability =P! Yes that’s right, making it a better experience for us, the end-users.

I’m also not trying to justify the change by saying that all those protestors are wrong and the new Facebook is better. That is not my intention. I am just wondering if people are rejecting the change just because they are resistant to something different. It’s funny because if you look at all the groups that were created in the past, none of them were ever successful in convinging Facebook to revert back to an older layout. I guess people just accepted it or just got used to it? Maybe that’s the point, people like what they’re used to. Even if they had a negative first impression.

People may try something new, and initially they may not like it. But eventually since they are forced into using it, they find out how to get to the things they want, the way they want. A couple months later, another change is introduced. This means that the things that were once muscle memory, now require different steps. It’s not so much that the new way is bad, it’s just that people don’t want to give up familiarity.

Can I extend this beyond the world of Facebook?

The much anticipated Windows 7 has been receiving a lot of hype and positive reviews. However, comparing the general look and feel of the OS, it looks like Microsoft stuck to a similar design as Windows Vista… And we all know how well Vista was received. The biggest change in the UI (and functionality to some degree) department was really the new taskbar. Of course, there are already two camps weighing in on this matter. But, why did Microsoft decide to stick with Vista’s design knowing full well its negative reputation? Shouldn’t they be trying to completely eradicate all traces of Vista? Pretend that it never existed! Right?
Could I say that this was a well thought out decision? That they didn’t want to introduce another major change that would push people even further?

Face it. Windows is still the most widely supported and used OS in the world. This means that some people are using it because they have to. They are, in a sense, forced to learn how to use Vista and to get familiar with it. This familiarity shouldn’t be regarded lightly, instead it could be used in Microsoft’s favour! Most companies don’t have this luxury. Many companies that are trying to release new products have to start from scratch and hope that users will adopt their design. But, Microsoft can offer new, yet familiar. It seems like a contradiction, but really it’s a privilege that most companies dream for. And so far, for Microsoft, it’s working in their favour.

Being a goalie myself, I really feel for Carey Price. The good news is that he seems to be regaining his confidence and is starting to win. Not too long ago, just after the All-Star break, he went through a stretch where he couldn’t even buy a win. I can only imagine all the pressure he received playing for the most successful franchise in the NHL. It must’ve been tremendously hard on the young goalie who played so well last year.

I was considering some of the young goalies who had great expectations: Marc-André Fleury, Rick DiPietro and Carey Price. Each had their own success before entering the NHL and had huge expectations. People expected them to save their losing teams and bring them out of their misery. What have I learned from their experiences? It’s that young goalies need time to develop, especially ones with so much talent and a bright future. I still remember everyone was criticizing Fleury and he was even sent to the minors before he could shine in last year’s playoffs. I told all my friends, “Just wait”.

I think that these goalies obviously have the skill; that is proven by their past success. They are so technically sound, they have goaltending down to a science (or an art). It’s not a question of whether or not they are good enough. However, one has to realize that goaltending has a lot to do with the mind. I would think that to make the jump to the NHL requires a different mindset, one that takes time to develop… Teams need to learn not to push the young players and need to give them time. I’m glad that Price was able to (dare I say it?) break through his slump, and it looks like he’s coming out from the other side of the tunnel. Just in time for the playoffs.

I’m currently in my fourth work term and that means that I am currently enrolled in the fourth installment of PDENG… 45. This particular offering of PDENG is quite different from the others because of one major component. We are required to work in an asynchronous group to complete a response to an RFP (Request for Proposal)! I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, I’ve never had to work in a group where we could never see each other and have never met each other. It was going to be a unique and challenging experience. Going into this project, I had no idea how it could’ve possibly worked. I was very much interested in meeting my group members and finding out what kind of solutions we could come up with. I was not so much interested in what we were going to write in our response (though very important), but more so how we were going to execute the whole project. Now, at the end, I must say that I’m thoroughly impressed and very thankful for the internet, online web applications and cloud computing.

In the beginning, our plan was to use a content management system (such as Drupal) to check in all our changes and additions. However, that concept was ditched very quickly =P. No one wanted to download and check in every change, every time. So, we decided to use  GoogleDocs to store one document and everyone would just add their contributions to that one isolated (but shared) document. We even used GoogleTalk to have all our group meetings! So, the communication and content was handled by the services offered by Google. If it weren’t for these two applications, our jobs would’ve been much harder. We might’ve had to send a document around every single time a change was made. That would’ve been hard to keep track of changes because, some might add or edit an old copy of the document. GoogleDocs was definitely something we took full advantage of.

I really liked how it allowed multiple people to be working on the same document. I remember at the end of the project, we had 4 or 5 members all editing the document to finalize changes. This definitely saved a lot of time. If we only had one copy, only one person could work on it at a time, otherwise the document may be out of “sync”. It was really nice to see how technology evolves and even affects how courses are taught.