Skip to main content

The young generation doesn't know how to use email.

This story shows how the medium of large distance communication is evolving. Once people were limited to telegrams and postal letters. Then with the invention of the Internet we began using email, and nowadays its shifting to social networking websites, such as Facebook. Without further ado, the story.

While browsing some albums on Facebook I found a picture I really liked. In a comment I asked the owner, a friend, whether she could send me a higher quality image by email.  She's about 10 years old. I have also attached my email address in the format username[at]

A few seconds later I receive this reply: 
"i dont have gmail... :P"
The reply blew me away. It instantly imagined that she may never have used email, so I started looking at a very simple way to send me the photo. I thought that would probably be too hard for her if she doesn't have an email. So I tried to find a way to let her upload the image to my Dropbox in one click. Finding such a solution was going to take me too long. Then it came to my mind that she probably has an email, but not at Gmail. After all, one needs to login to Facebook with an email address. I should have thought of that sooner. 

I found her email on her profile info. It was from Hotmail. So I told her:
"You don't need Gmail. Login to your hotmail mail and send me the photographs to username[at]  (change [at] for @)"

I hoped that would suffice, but I soon got a private message on Facebook from her:
"ej. I added you to msn, how can I send you the photo now? :)"

I almost told her to give up. Apparently she uses her email address explicitly for MSN and to login to Facebook. 

Since my msn account is username[at] and not  username[at] I added her myself and soon we were chatting.
Her: "so, how do I send you the picture now?"

It was already a bit irritating, but still fascinating: she doesn't use her email account to send email, and she doesn't know how to send a picture via MSN after adding me to her contact list? 
I explained her how to do it and I finally had the nice photo on my hard drive. 

Facebook has totally influenced how we communicate with friends and how we use the computer. Today, it is completely normal to login to Facebook several times a day and not check the email for days. Email was one of the first thing I knew how to use when my father first bought a computer. For me, Facebook is like an add-on for email, that makes it more social and interactive, but doesn't replace it. However for those who didn't learn to use email effectively before Facebook, the Internet is a different place, centered around a few websites, among which is Facebook. What is email for these people? I presume they perceive it as an outdated communication system, that is not worth learning. I think email to them is like postal mail to me. I know it's there, but hardy know how to use it. I always have to ask on which side of the envelope do I have to write the sender and where the receiver.


Popular posts from this blog

Basic cell counting and segmentation in Matlab

Counting cells manually is a tedious error prone process for humans. Given a large data set of microscopy images this task can be achieved much faster by means of basic computer vision techniques. In this tutorial we will segment cells from an image following a method similar to the one presented by Yongming Chen in 1999. The method uses basic morphological operations and the watershed algorithm to segment the cells. Nowadays better methods for cell segmentation exist. This method was chosen for its simplicity and ease of implementation.

We start with an image of cell-like structures by Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis and Virginia E Papaioannou.

A = imread('cells.jpg');
We convert the image to grayscale:
I = rgb2gray(A);

To be able to extract the dimmer cells, it is necessary to perform some local contrast adjustments
I = adapthisteq(I);

Objects on the borders can be caused by noise and other artifacts. We can eliminate objects on the borders of the image like this:
I = imclearborder(…

Project planning in a text file

Whenever you work on a project it is important to be able to plan it ahead of time. This holds true for small and big project, from planning a trip to the spa to building a spaceship. The small project plans can be maintained in you thoughts while bigger ones require tools to help you see the big-picture of the project and manage task at a lower level. There are projects which start with a fully prepared plan and projects which pivot overnight, thus invalidating any original plan. For the latter flexibility is very important, and tools like Trello offer a great solution because they can be adjusted to fit your project.

However, it may happen sometimes that the project starts adjusting to the tool or that you still want to maintain a bigger picture of the main points of the project. You may also need to produce a rough development schedule to serve as a long term road-map.

I have prototyped a tool (and defined a workflow) which allows you to plan such projects.

To better understand how…

Selenium testing in Jenkins with an in-memory X server

This articles explains how to setup integration testing of web applications (that require a browser instance) on a Jenkins server. The article assumes you are able to understand the title. If you need a reminder follow the links below.

What is Selenium? Read here.
What is Jenkins? Read here.
What is an X server? Read here.

If you are still puzzled, this article is not for you.

Integration testing of web application is more complicated than unit testing, because they require a browser instance to be running. In order to run a browser (such as Firefox) you need and X server. The testing server usually doesn't have one.

One solution to this is to run the browser instance on another machine through VNC. This has the advantage of not using the same resources as the testing server. However it requires setting up a new machine, and configuring the integration tests to run a browser in it.

Another solution is to use Xvfb, a display server that implements the X11 protocol, but does not re…