Sunday, March 13, 2005

The VS.Net 2003 Bug

Last Friday I was working on a Visual Studio .Net 2003 project. Everything was working fine, and suddenly I got this error in Visual studio:
"Could Not Copy Temporary Files to the Output Directory"
"The file 'assembly name' cannot be copied to the run directory. The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process."

I did not know what I did to upset Visual studio. I opened task manager and hunted for some vague process which might be holding the particular dll which was being built; result: none :(

The first thing to do in such cases is: take a long breath, open http://www.google.com and just copy paste the error you are getting; result: Bug in Visual studio .net 2003. As it turns out there is some bug in Visual studio which gets into action if one of the referenced dlls is more than 64 KB:

"This problem occurs when the IntelliSense engine of the project locks a referenced assembly. The IntelliSense engine locks only those referenced assemblies that are larger than 64 KB."

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Information Overload

I read the 'Blink' by Malcom Gladwell on Saturday. I could not help but reading it without stop. It is a marvelous book with some very good insights. The examples and case histories which Gladwell quotes are marvelous.

One section deals with information overload and how it turns off the ability of our mind to take snap decisions. He provides an interesting illustration:

As a part of a exercise the military wanted to test the capabilities of the latest state of the art technological gadgets which gathered information about the enemy's movements communication, a whole database of opinions of military and political experts, algorithms which consumed all this information and predicted enemy's probable moves, and much more.

To test the usefulness of all this information a mock combat was organized with two teams: the red team and the blue team. The blue team had access to all the information, the red team which acted as the enemy had none.

Which team do you expect to win the mock combat? Blue right? But the red team won the combat! The blue team was overloaded with information and it affected the decision making greatly. The red team was not hampered by this. They concentrated on the battle when the blue team was trying make sense out of all the information and weigh the pros and cons of various options.

No doubt information was useful, but only before the battle began.

I think this has implications on the way we work as well. Too much information, too many options, too much analysis, clouds our ability to take decisions. What do you think? Comments invited.