Author page: Robin Monks

The Trust Fence and Awkward Filter

As a user of a product or service you want to maintain a certain kind of status quo for what you expect the product usage to be like and what sort of interaction you’re going to have with it. This status quo is a sort of “goldilocks”-zone where you want to keep your users secure and trusting of your product. But what happens when you let your users make the content that other users can see?

Buying Coffee Online (in Canada)

It almost feels like a requirement for being a software engineer, a love affair with “the finest organic suspension ever devised.” (Bonus points if anyone recognizes that quote without asking Google.) Coffee, or at least good coffee, isn’t easy to come by here and necessitates me driving at least 45 minutes into the city (both ways) to fetch anything beyond Folgers, Maxwell House or…

Custom Build vs Alienware Aurora Gaming Desktop (Canadian version)

Model from February, 2013.
Alienware desktop model from February, 2013.

It’s been my experience over the years of building computers that in many cases you can build better or cheaper computers from scratch than you would be able to get pre-assembled from major manufactures. For me, there was also great value in getting to have the experience of assembling a PC yourself and having a sense of the “I built that” pride. Despite holding this belief I never set out to actually prove it, until now.

On the right you’ll see the Alienware Aurora Gaming Desktop with the default settings as it retails in Canada for $1,499 for the low-end model all the way to $2,999 for the ALX high-end model (see the end for a detailed comparison of all specs). The goal will be to use NCIX to build a machine with the same specs (or as close as is possible) and compare the custom build based on price.

I’m using NCIX because of their liberal price-matching policy and because they offer a PC assembly option that will let you choose the components you want and have them build it, adding a 1 year warranty to the final machine in the process. This will let us compare the result directly with Dell/Alienware for the fully built machine.

What Firefox’s 8th Birthday Means to Me

I’m not sure how many people are aware of this – but Firefox is now celebrating it’s 8th birthday. Eight years since Mozilla dubbed Firebird, Firefox and sent the little browser that could out into the world to start the next browser war. My life was profoundly changed by this project that did much to shape the future of the internet and…