Yearly Archives: 2010

December 31st, 2010

In Philosophy

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The Random Walk Theory of Measurement

What a great post. All of my biases tend in the direction described here:

The true score theory, or true measurement theory, postulates (and it is only a postulate) that a measurement value is the sum of a true value and a possibly random error : .

This postulate has an interesting consequence that I have rarely seen discussed. Suppose, as was the case in our pre-service teacher’s measurement process that measurements were carried out in a sequence, one ...

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December 31st, 2010

In Business

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How to manage a tech career

Interesting. This guy worked at AI and Huge. I’ve had friends work at both places.

Source

December 30th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Autonomy and women in business

Interesting.

I would never turn away an opportunity to be recognized as a powerful woman, but I do question the value of these “Power” lists. At best, I can learn from them how women maneuvered in male-centric industries. What I’d really like to know is how women discovered their unique niche in the world and built lives that sustained their vision.

In his book Drive Daniel Pink identifies AUTONOMY as a primary motivator in the workplace. We don’t all need to ...

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December 30th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Motherhood: the list

Interesting.

Am I a bad mother if…

I’m typing this while an infant is feeding on my right boob?

I forgot to ask you to wash your hands before holding the baby?

I stick a finger in her mouth to suck when she’s tantruming and there’s no Purell in sight?

I pee while I’m wearing her?

I eat while I’m wearing her, and you can find granola crumbs and errant drops of the frozen yogurt in the folds of her neck?

I have a three wet-fart rule? ...

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December 30th, 2010

In Philosophy

2 Comments

Growing apart from old friends

An odd post from Sebastian Marshall, about growing apart from old friends. I disagree with most of this – I think all people tend to grow apart with time, and it does not matter if some are “improving” or not. But it is an interesting post, just like anything that Marshall writes.

Source

December 30th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Employees who suffer Stockholm Syndrome

Interesting:

Hopefully nobody reading this is literally being held hostage right now. If you are, good luck!

For the rest of you, why might I suggest that you are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Because employment relationships can manifest themselves in this very way.

In the article, Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser, Dr. Joseph Carver says that the following four situations serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome:

The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical ...

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December 30th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Can the USA drive cowardice out of politics?

Tim Bray complains about the stupid things the USA does because of the panic it has suffered since 9/11.

The saddest thing is how much this fear has undermined and destroyed the Republican Party. Starting with the election of 1948, the Republicans began to realize they could get votes by stoking fears of overseas threats. Very slowly, over the decades, the Republican party got increasingly addicted to the boost they could get through this tactic. And, because of it, they went ...

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December 29th, 2010

In Technology

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Category theory offered programming insights in 1965

I just got done reading John Derbyshires book, The Unknown Quantity, which is a history of algebra. Derbyshire starts with the Babylonians in 2000 BC and then he narrates the advances in algebra up to modern times (to 2006). He sounds somewhat skeptical about whether or not Category Theory ever had any practical usefulness. However, this article from 1965 seems to suggest that, yes, Category Theory did at one offer some practical insights into programming. I am using the word ...

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December 29th, 2010

In Technology

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Patterns of prime numbers

I like this. Spiral images that map prime numbers.

Source

December 28th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

A snow storm

We had a bit of a snow storm the night before last. Here are some photos of taken just outside my apartment building, during Monday morning, and then another photo take 12 hours later, on Monday night:

Although the storm had stopped the day before, the wind on Monday was so intense that new drifts continue to gather.

Source

December 28th, 2010

In Business

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The tech scene in New York is running hot

It’s a good time to be a programmer in New York City.

Source

December 28th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

What is an introvert?

I have never been able to buy into the idea that introverts are people who find other people tiring. I am an introvert but I am happy to spend most of each day hanging out with friends. I might be able to agree that introverts find strangers tiring. The process of getting to know someone requires effort. I could live with that definition. All the same, I found this interesting:

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who ...

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December 28th, 2010

In Business

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Microsoft loses billions of dollars on its online division, and no one seems to care

The lack of discipline that has crept into Microsoft is nicely summarized here:

It’s an unbelievable chart. I’ve had to stop writing several times just to look at it again.

I’m certainly not arrogant enough to claim I know how to fix an entire division. But I can look at this and ask some basic questions:

Who in senior leadership has earned promotions or raises during this time? I’m not saying this is impossible, but it does deserve some serious explaining.

What fundamental assumptions ...

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December 27th, 2010

In Philosophy

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What about dumb people who are energetic? Do they do harm or good?

Interesting:

Why would someone support a presidential candidate without knowing their positions? Why would someone want their children to have an ignorant but effective teacher? Why would someone want a programmer who is proficient at producing bad code?

I don’t think anyone wants these things, though they do lose sight of their goals. People like charismatic presidents, good teachers, and productive programmers. But it’s too easy to fall into reductionism, focusing on elemental components and losing sight of how the big picture.

By ...

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December 27th, 2010

In Philosophy

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What is it like to have suicidal depression?

Interesting.

Source

December 25th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Americans over-estimate how much money the poor have

And Americans underestimate the percentage of wealth in the US that is held by the top quintile.

Source

December 23rd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Ellen Beldner on gender

2 posts over at Ellen Beldner’s blog that I just stumbled upon:

Regarding attire:

Recently, every time I get dressed to go out — heels, skirt, jewelry — it strikes me how incredibly non-functional are the clothes that make women look feminine, especially in high fashion. When I wear heels I can’t run, I have to take small steps, I have to balance carefully, I have to take cabs. Small evening-appropriate bags are absurd: I can rarely fit keys, phone, wallet ...

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December 22nd, 2010

In Philosophy

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The USA has a drug problem

Terrifying:

A few years ago I was managing the night shift at a call center when one of the CSR’s came bursting out of the stair well onto the main floor and yelled “They’re searching everyone in the parking lot.” They were the cops, the searchees were our employees leaving work. A few days before someone had allegedly been mugged in that parking lot. The center director called the local sheriff and asked them to keep an eye on the lot ...

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December 22nd, 2010

In Business

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Glassdoor is a place where employees post reviews of companies

I never heard of this site before, but this negative review of Netflix is interesting. This goes against most of what I’ve heard about Netflix up till now. The critical tone is hard to make consistent with the continuing success that Netflix seems to enjoy.

Source

December 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Too many new ideas will kill a startup

Interesting.

Source

December 17th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Researchers discover evidence of a multiverse

Some evidence of a multiverse.

It is a little sad the way good words get ruined sometimes. They start off with meaning X and then, for a few decades, they become closely identified with concept T. After awhile people realize that T is just a subset of what X used to mean, but by now the word that used to refer X now refers to T. So a new word needs to be invented to refer to what X always ...

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December 17th, 2010

In Technology

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A list of startup incubators

I might apply to some of these.

Source

December 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Politics leaves me lonely

Orwell writes about the dramatic swings in opinion among his comrades on the left:

Here were the very people who for twenty years had hooted and jeered at the ‘glory’ of war, at atrocity stories, at patriotism, even at physical courage, coming out with stuff that with the alteration of a few names would have fitted into the Daily Mail of 1918. If there was one thing that the British intelligentsia were committed to, it was the debunking version of war, ...

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December 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Orwell: the worst truth about atrocities is simply that they happen

Orwell writing about the lies about atrocities, and about people’s willingness to believe or disbelieve depending on who is speaking.

But unfortunately the truth about atrocities is far worse than that they are lied about and made into propaganda. The truth is that they happen. The fact often adduced as a reason for scepticism — that the same horror stories come up in war after war — merely makes it rather more likely that these stories are true. Evidently they ...

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December 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

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People who have something to lose

Orwell, on the kind of people drawn to fascism.

When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! Think of a programme which at any rate for a while could bring Hitler, Petain, Montagu Norman, Pavelitch, William Randolph Hearst, Streicher, Buchman, Ezra Pound, Juan March, Cocteau, Thyssen, Father Coughlin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Arnold Lunn, Antonescu, Spengler, Beverley Nichols, Lady Houston, and Marinetti all into the same ...

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December 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

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You can not be neutral

Orwell writes of war, though I think this is probably true of all political struggle, to a lesser or greater degree:

When one thinks of the cruelty, squalor, and futility of War — and in this particular case of the intrigues, the persecutions, the lies and the misunderstandings — there is always the temptation to say: ‘One side is as bad as the other. I am neutral’. In practice, however, one cannot be neutral, and there is hardly such a thing ...

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December 15th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Running strace on bash and ls

Interesting in the level of detail it goes into with the ls command.

Source

December 15th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

PHP is still broken in its UTF8 support

I’m dealing with a very odd bug where a string tests true as UTF8 yet all the European names with accents are mangled. In the course of my research, I came across this article, that lists some of the many ways that PHP conflicts with UTF8.

Source

December 13th, 2010

In Business

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Your idea doesn’t suck till you test it against reality

About right:

When you stop being a wimp is when ideas start to suck. Ideas that suck are good because you’re starting to test them against reality instead of the mental model in your head.

For 6 years I worked with an entrepreneur who gave up on any idea after about 3 months because, as the idea started to become real, he became disappointed with it. Didn’t matter what the idea was. This happened again and again, year after year. Nothing ...

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December 13th, 2010

In Business

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A conference on entrepreneurship should have some entrepreneurs at it

A conference on entrepreneurship in Spain became a place where people of high status could talk about how much they love entrepreneurs. Few entrepreneurs attended.

This is the thing, a banker that creates a startup competition thinks that gives him uber knowledge on their problems. Truth is, the banker never gets to talk with the entrepreneurs. Not the ones attending his program, not the ones elsewhere. An MBA person, with expertise in finance and buyout operations, that has being doing ...

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December 12th, 2010

In Technology

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Flash file uploaders do not work

This is the sharpest criticism I’ve heard against using Flash, and this seems to be pure fact, with no intent to criticize:

Problem: Less than half of Facebook users were able to successfully upload photos.

Solution: To boost uploads Facebook switched from java/flash Facebook file selector to the browser native file selector which increased uploads by 11%. They have also streamlined the upload process by taking out the Album Creation before the uploads.

Problem: The team found that of 85% who uploaded a ...

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December 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Lisp simplifies things

Interesting

A related complaint is that Lisp is too strange and hard to understand. There is a misguided notion that programming languages should resemble English. Which has given us COBOL, BASIC and AppleScript. (I have fond memories of BASIC, and Microsoft had a pretty good run with it, but no one’s going to write AI programs or even web server applications with it). English expression of computer programs is as efficient and clear as writing mathematical formulas in English.

Simplicity lends itself ...

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December 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

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The division of wealth

Thomas Jefferson walks around France and is horrified by the great inequality of wealth:

The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all there comes ...

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December 9th, 2010

In Technology

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Pagination with Doctrine in Symfony 1.4

I’m working with Doctrine for the first time. This is a good explanation of handling pagination.

Source

December 9th, 2010

In Business

4 Comments

A quarter million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A web startup which makes the apartment rental process happen online.

I like this story:

I went on to clerk for a federal appellate judge. This is a big deal to some people. Then I went to a big law firm and pulled in a quarter million. But, as that old saying goes, “A quarter million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A web startup which makes the apartment rental process happen online.” Wizened by art such as Hollywood’s The Social Network, I walked away ...

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December 9th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Pluto is not a planet

I guess anyone who is working on something radically new, be a product or an idea about the universe, runs into this, that even those closest to us have no sense of why we need to care strongly about how things are defined.

I hobbled back from the rocky beach up to the house. I woke Diane and told her that when the press called tomorrow I was going to have to tell them why the new proposed definition ...

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December 8th, 2010

In Technology

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Changing task names in Symfony 1.4

In Symfony 1.4, the task “generate-crud” got renamed “generate-module”. I lost a bit of time trying to find that one.

The new form is:

symfony doctrine:generate-module appname modulename modelname

Source

December 8th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

How to edit the default CRUD templates used by Symfony for scaffolding?

I looked for this info last year and did not find it. Symfony is becoming better documented.

Source

December 7th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Learn Clojure, a new site

Worth watching to see how it develops

Source

December 6th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Loading data from fixtures for functional tests in Symfony

Interesting

Source

December 3rd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Another attack on Jason Calacanis

Interesting. I have no problem with 80 hour work weeks, so long as something useful or interesting comes out of it. But I do not see Calacanis doing anything useful or interesting.

Source

December 3rd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Negative karma undermines online reputation systems

I’ve been annoyed by anonymous downvoting over at Hacker News, so I can agree with this:

It’s not a good idea to combine positive and negative inputs in a single public karma score. Say you encounter a user with 75 karma points and another with 69 karma points. Who is more trustworthy? You can’t tell: maybe the first user used to have hundreds of good points but recently accumulated a lot of negative ones, while the second user has never received ...

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December 3rd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Decision making among bees

For accuracy and fast decisions, two things to remember:

1.) turnover among debaters is good — limit the amount of time people can talk

2.) minimize the influence of leadership

Source

December 3rd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Women facing harassment at tech conferences

Interesting.

Source

December 2nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

What is the real meaning of Google? It is too soon to tell.

Sometimes Google is freakishly good. Just now I was trying to remember who said it was “Too soon to tell” when they were asked what the meaning of the French Revolution was. I thought it was Chou Enlai, but I realized it could have been one of the other leaders of the Chinese revolution. So I open a new browser and start typing. Check out this screenshot:

Google knew where I was going almost before I did.

Source

December 1st, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Smart people prefer being smart versus having social skills

I like this post a lot:

Thus, you see highly intelligent people do what I now term “defecting by accident” – meaning, in the process of trying to have a discussion, they insult, belittle, or offend their conversational partner. They commit obvious, blatant social faux pases,not as a conscious decision of the tradeoffs, but by accident because they don’t know better.

Sometimes defecting is the right course of action. Sometimes you need to break from whoever you’re negotiating with, insist that ...

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November 29th, 2010

In Technology

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A simple script to gather news, written in Clojure

Interesting and simple.

Source

November 29th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Reversing aging in mice

Interesting

DePinho also said the study may lead to new directions for regenerative medicine because the findings suggest that dormant adult stem cells in extremely aged tissues remain viable and can be reactivated to repair tissue damage.

“If you can remove the underlying damage and stresses that drive the aging process and cause stem cells to go into growth arrest, you may be able to recruit them back into a regenerative response to rejuvenate tissues and maintain health in the aged,” he ...

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November 29th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

I get angry reading criticism of hard work

I get angry reading criticism of hard work. Matt Douglas is critical of Seth Priebatsch. Matt says that Seth works too much:

Are you disturbed by these comments from a leader in our tech community? I am. I’m not impressed by the bravado, and I don’t think the work ethic is impressive. In fact, I think Seth is setting a poor example for the tech community. In my opinion, the greatest challenge of a start-up is to find work/life balance: ...

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November 29th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Milton Friedman supported unconventional monetary expansion for Japan

An amazing exchange in which Milton Friedman, in 2000, suggests unconventional monetary policy for Japan. These are the policies that the Fed is now trying to pursue for the USA. It is sad that once upon a time Friedman’s opinion would have carried substantial weight with the right-wing of USA politics, but not nowadays. There has been some kind of strange disconnect with all the previous intellectual debates that once happened in this country.

Source

November 29th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

A clever way to defeat comment spam

Clever.

Source

November 29th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

If I turn you on, but George turns you off, are you on or are you off?

This is a great (and funny) tutorial on how to design the architecture of software.

Source

November 26th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The iPhone dev team hackers – sort of like the anti-dev team

My friend Lark points me to this site. Sort of the ultimate site for keeping up on iPhone hacks and jailbreaks.

Source

November 26th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Eras of moderation are unstable

Paul Krugman says the era of moderation was unstable:

But watching the failure of policy over the past three years, I find myself believing, more and more, that this failure has deep roots – that we were in some sense doomed to go through this. Specifically, I now suspect that the kind of moderate economic policy regime Brad and I both support – a regime that by and large lets markets work, but in which the government is ready both to ...

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November 26th, 2010

In Technology

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Google and Microsoft violate Internet standards to get fast websites

Interesting

Conclusions

It’s getting late, so I’ll wrap this up with a few thoughts:

Fast is good. I’m excited to see that sub-100ms page loads are possible, and it’s a shame to not be able to take full advantage of modern networks because of protocol limitations (http being the limiting protocol, btw).

Being non-standards-compliant in a way that privileges their flows relative to others seems more than a little hypocritical from a company that’s making such a fuss about network neutrality.

I’m not really qualified ...

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November 26th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Excessive praise marks corporate peaks

Articles like “Can Anything Stop The Facebook Juggernaut?” define corporate or national peaks.

In 1986 IBM recorded the largest profit ever recorded by any corporation in the the history of the world. Nothing would ever be able to compete with IBM. The media was in a swoon about how amazing IBM was. But IBM was already losing ground in the PC market, and they were losing ground in electronics to the Japanese. In 1993 IBM was struggling to avoid bankruptcy.

Circa 1991/1992 ...

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November 24th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Viruses explain schizophrenia

An inherited virus could explain many forms of mental illness. I was betting on herpes but I guess I was wrong. I wonder if this is the same virus that causes migraines?

Source

November 24th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Viruses explain obesity

Interesting:

There are alternate models for the obesity epidemic. Environmental contamination by endocrine disrupting chemicals might be one direction to look in. Another might be the AD36 adenovirus:

Nikhil Dhurandhar, an obesity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has shown that a human adenovirus called AD36 raises body-fat levels in animal models such as chickens and rodents. What’s more, he found that obese humans were three times more likely to be infected with the virus than non-obese ...

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November 24th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

What you can do with ssh

Interesting

Source

November 24th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

If the USA is the most innovative nation on Earth, then how can it suffer long-term economic decline?

(Note: In this post, I am not asserting my own opinion about the USA’s economic future.)

A lot of very intelligent people seem to be struggling with the idea that the USA might face a protracted period of economic decline, despite the fact that it is an innovative powerhouse (see this thread on Hacker News). It’s actually very simple for a country to be both innovative and in decline.

To achieve clarity I will offer a simple model. Remember, I’m not ...

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November 23rd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Why is there no political price to be paid for policies that might hamper an economic recovery?

Seems to me the Republicans are not the problem. They are simply pursuing their rational self-interest, given the circumstances. The deeper issue is why do such circumstances exist? How is it that leaving unemployment at 10% will help the Republican party? Why is it the Republicans will pay no political price for leaving 15 million unemployed?

[J]ust before the mid-term elections, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell candidly told the National Journal, “The single most important thing we want ...

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November 23rd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The Mac OS X sucks

I am about to buy a Mac. I worry about the lack of a package manager. I thought this criticism of Max OS X was on the mark:

But the real problem with OS X is that it tries to be Windows and Linux at the same time and fails miserably. For me as linux user the most important detail of linux is missing: the package manager. But at the same time the beloved setup.exes are missing. Dmgs with application bundles ...

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November 23rd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Arduino cat repeller

Interesting.

Source

November 23rd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

We are not driven by utility, but rather by social status

This is one of the most intelligent things that I have ever read:

I think that Matt’s decision might be hard to understand—at least, his departement chair feels the need to explain it to us—because he is putting into question the very core values of our society. These core values were explored by Veblen in his unconventional book The Theory of the Leisure Class. He argued that we are not driven by utility, but rather by social status. In fact, our ...

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November 23rd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The most blind thing I have ever read

I’m simply unable to imagine what would allow an intelligent person to write this:

Cancer and diabetes – are risk factors the same for these two diseases? Or does diabetes cause processes in the body which promote the onset or growth of cancer? It is still unclear why diabetics have a higher rate of cancer than people who are not affected by this metabolic disorder.

What exactly do you think will happen to a person when their immune cells develop resistance to ...

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November 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The newspapers are doomed, part CXVIII

Clay Shirky has been very good on this subject.

As of July, non-subscribers can no longer read Times stories forwarded by colleagues or friends, nor can they read stories linked to from Facebook or Twitter. As a result, links to Times stories now rarely circulate in those media. If you are going to produce news that can’t be shared outside a particular community, you will want to recruit and retain a community that doesn’t care whether any given piece of news ...

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November 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The importance of human capital in the era of free money

Interesting

Source

November 22nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Many-to-many relationships in Symfony

Interesting

Source

November 22nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Other programmer’s bugs are boring

Frameworks like Symfony, or Grails, or Ruby on Rails, can be useful to businesses for all the reasons I talked about in “Why software frameworks are beneficial to clients“. However, to a programmer, a framework is only useful to the extent that it works. A framework with a lot of bugs is a time killer. I worked on my own framework from 2002 to 2008. I then switched to Symfony. I think working with another programmers code is boring, but ...

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November 20th, 2010

In Business

2 Comments

A video of my talk to the WordPress Meetup is now available on YouTube

I was invited to talk for 10 minutes to the local WordPress group in NYC. A video of my talk is now available on YouTube:

Though our first site (WP Questions) was focused on WordPress, we hope our customers will soon develop hundreds of sites focused on many different things. But since our WordPress site was our first, it best illustrates the potential of what we hope others will be able to do.

Funny story: I had assumed that I would be ...

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November 19th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Computer programmers keep up with changing technologies?

I feel the initial premise here is incorrect:

I’ve been in the developer and startup environments for the past years, and one pattern kept coming up: Programmers evolve to the latest technologies and frameworks, but designers are still doing the same thing they did in the year 2000.

It seems to be accepted that, while programmers learn new languages constantly, designers should only worry about aesthetics. And so we all accept that we should stop using the best tools available so ...

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November 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

ClojureQL: the ultimate database abstraction layer?

ClojureQL 1.0 is out. Personally, I have not been able to move forward with my Clojure projects, because I am swamped with my contract gig at Wine Spectator, and my efforts to get Codewi.se software into other people’s hands. But I do look forward to getting back to my experiments with Clojure soon.

Source

November 17th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

An odd conversation with NetVibes

I like NetVibes. I’ve been using it for 3 or 4 years now. I have several hundred RSS feeds that I subscribe to.

I wrote them this note:

I have request. I need to know the 20 websites that I read most often. You say “dashboard everything”. I need a dashboard that reminds me what I read. Can you offer that?

From our Codewi.se users, we get email like this all the time. People often write us and suggest new features, and ...

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November 17th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Regressive taxes are common in social democracies?

This surprises me very much:

More generally, it does seem that countries with strong welfare states have less progressive tax systems than those with weak safety nets; see this, from the Luxembourg Income Study (pdf).

And there’s a substantial literature suggesting that this is no accident: that in the United States, because we don’t have a national sales tax, politics ends up being about tax brackets, which in the end can’t do much to reduce inequality, while in Europe you have broad-based ...

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November 17th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

MySql needs better error messages

Yesterday I wrote that MySql WorkBench is a total waste of time. I’ve now wasted several hours trying to debug the schema that WorkBench generated. I will add another complaint: MySql needs better error messages. Every time I try to execute my schema, I get an error like this:

ERROR 1005 (HY000): Can’t create table ‘msc_wine.media’ (errno: 150)

I finally got frustrated enough that I posted this question on MySql Emergency, and I’m offering a $20 prize.

From my research so far, ...

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November 17th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

A sensible HTML templateing system in Common Lisp?

An HTML template system in Common Lisp. I am suspicious of all template systems that move away from pure HTML, for all the reason that I wrote about 4 years ago. But I realize, these template (all in code) are considered part of the culture in the land of Lisp. And for what it implements, this seems much cleaner than the PHP systems that I was criticizing 4 years ago.

Source

November 17th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Using JanRain and their service RPXNow

Very soon now I hope to offer JanRain connections on all the Codewi.se sites. But I take this as a cautionary tale:

The Dumbest Decision I’ve Ever Made

The code for our Open ID responder is spiraling, with just about every conditional setting in there you can imagine for the various providers out there. I’ll save you the grumbling rant, but coding up Open ID stuff is utterly mind-numbing frustration. And while I’m doing this, I’m not recording videos… creating product.

Then ...

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November 16th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

My thanks to Lark Davis

This site was designed by Lark Davis. I meant to post this earlier, but did not get to it till now. Thanks, Lark! I love this design.

Source

November 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The smartest thing Bill Gates has ever said

I’ve a new level of respect for Bill Gates after reading this:

You’ve just come back from China, which many people argue is beating us at energy innovation. Do you agree? In order for the United States to do the right things for the long term, it appears to be helpful for us to have the prospect of humiliation. Sputnik helped us fund good science — really good science, the semiconductor came out of it. And in the 1980s, we ...

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November 16th, 2010

In Business

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There is no leadership crisis

This is very well said:

Do you sell leadership development courses? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “we have identified that leadership development for a next generation of leaders is our top priority”. What I’d like to answer: I think most canned courses are a waste of money and don’t sell courses. Also, I’m not convinced that there is any more of a leadership crisis today that requires a huge investment. I think ...

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November 16th, 2010

In Technology

1 Comment

MySql Workbench is a total waste of time

I’ve heard a lot of good things about MySql Workbench, but now that I’ve actually used it for a project I’m amazed at how bad it is. Had I simply created my schema by typing raw SQL, or using something like phpMyAdmin, I’d have saved a lot of time. Here are all the things that MySql Workbench did wrong:

Incorrect foreign keys – I was often unable to use it to set foreign keys. It did not give an error message, ...
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November 15th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The all possible experience generator

Right now, physics seems to be leaning toward a view of the universe as one instance of a multiverse all possible experience generator. I am curious what comes next? How many years will this theory last, and what will replace it?

In contrast, suppose one more simple law of physics not presently understood, which forces the initial condition of the universe to be low-entropy. Then the exponentially vast majority of brains occur as the result of ordered processes in ordered ...

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November 15th, 2010

In Business

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Impostor Syndrome

Interesting:

It turns out there’s a psycho-babble name for this: Impostor Syndrome. As Inc Magazine points out, studies show that “40% of successful people consider themselves frauds.” Ask any small business coach; they’ll confirm how prevalent these feelings are. It’s even common with PhD candidates.

Although not an official psychological disorder, and generally not crippling, if you have these feelings it’s useful to know that it’s common and there’s something you can do about it.

See if these sound familiar:

You dismiss complements, awards, ...

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November 14th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Why do I live in New York City?

Penelope Trunk suggests that people who live in New York are “maximizers”:

3. Do you value an interesting life over happy life?

New Yorkers are not known for being happy. In fact, they are known for being unhappy, and they don’t care.

On balance, New Yorkers understand that most people who are happy are complacent – they like the status quo. And people who like what they have do not do innovative things to change the world. They like the world just ...

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November 14th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

What if cancer and diabetes are both just the mishandling of sugar?

My dad died of cancer 3 years ago and I’ve become fascinated with cancer research ever since. My own read on this literature has had me speculating about some metabolic links between diabetes and cancer – perhaps they spring from similar mechanisms? In that light, I found this article interesting, and was left wondering, what if cancer is only PKM2 funneling sugar into excess PEP? What if everything else that researchers have associated with cancer is merely incidental (the lack ...

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November 14th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria show some of the largest gains in the world for human capicity

Interesting:

Leaving aside the oil exporting countries, the North African cases are particularly interesting. As Francisco Rodriguez and Emma Samman, two of the report’s authors, note, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria have experienced remarkable gains in life expectancy and educational attainment, leaving many Asian superstars in the dust. Only Tunisia among the three is a high growth country, underlining one of the report’s main findings that economic growth and human development often diverge significantly, even over as long a time frame as ...

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November 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

An update for those of you who are on our waiting list

My friend Chris Clarke and I have been working very hard to get the software to the point where we can roll out the new sites for the people on the waiting list. We need to finish 2 things:

1.) automate refunds – till now, Darren and I have handled refunds manually, but this is a huge pain, especially when a customer added to their prize several times, so refunding one question means refunding 2 or 3 or 4 different PayPal transactions. ...

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November 12th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Being a foodie is an acquired taste

This is funny, but I do not think it is fair:

One thing I learned on my trip to the Bordeaux wine-making region of France is that the vast, vast, vast majority of things said about wine are complete bullshit. The upper end of the wine industry is almost entirely about marketing and branding, and has very little to do with the product. In a blind taste test, I bet that 97% of wine drinking adults can tell the difference ...

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November 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The summer of 2003 was the biggest turning point in the history of independent music sales

Interesting.

Source

November 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

If I do not remember you, it is because I read

I’ve heard of those members of ancient tribes who would commit to memory the entire genealogical history of the tribe, and I’ve always had trouble understanding how that was done. I often go to parties and have trouble remembering even one new name. Apparently this is because I read. New research suggests that our ability to read has stolen territory away from areas of the brain that used to be used for facial recognition.

Source

November 11th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Why is the USA wealthy?

Interesting.

ECONOMIC gloom and doom aside, America remains the world’s richest large country. It’s generally estimated to have a per capita GDP level around $45,000, while the richest European nations manage only a $40,000 or so per capita GDP (setting aside low population, oil-rich states like Norway). Wealth underlies America’s sense of itself as a special country, and it’s also cited as evidence that America is better than other economies on a range of variables, from economic freedom to optimism to ...

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November 11th, 2010

In Business

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If you are building a startup, it really helps to be in a city like New York

Okay, first, there is this:

Y Combinator is in the Valley. Y Combinator has done something remarkable. I think Y Combinator is the reason we have a new species in town: the super angel. But Y Combinator is in the Valley. Being in the Valley, in the Valley alone is a disadvantage. People don’t buy servers anymore. They have Amazon web services. Times have changed. Some of the best programmers I know are self taught people. All the material you ...

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November 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Why does death seem more ironic when the chance of survival is close?

Why is that death seems somehow more costly, more bitter, when the chance of escape is tantalizingly close?

This is a bit about the last day of WW I:

At 7:15, an attack came; Bucher’s machine guns broke it up before the Americans facing him reached his barbed wire. His company’s casualties were light. One new recruit went down with a chemical burn. Bucher comforted him by telling him how much worse it could have been, how ...

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November 10th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

WP Questions turns $10,000

WP Questions is the question-and-answer site that I started with Darren Hoyt. It focuses on WordPress. It has now handled over $10,000 worth of questions. I wrote this up in detail on our company blog, over at Codewi.se.

Soon we will be rolling out our software, so anyone can start a site like this.

Source

November 10th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Mastering Emacs

Some one has started a Master Emacs blog. I shall be a devoted reader.

Source

November 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Reputational loss via Facebook

An interesting anecdote

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November 8th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Advanced routing in Symfony

If you need to do some highly custom stuff with either Symfony routes or templates, it is worth it to read this article.

Source

November 8th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The US government has programs to promote cheese and programs to reduce cheese consumption

I realize it is very unlikely to ever get all government programs to line up to promote an idea in a clear way, but this article brings out the contradictions. The Agriculture department subsidizes the marketing of cheese, while the various health departments all issue warnings about the increasing amount of fat (and cheese) in the US diet. Cheese consumption has tripled since 1970. The US government ends up recreating within itself all the contradictions of the wider society. While ...

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November 8th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

FRED charts from the Fed

Krugman talks about where he gets his charts. . Apparently he uses a Fed site.

Source

November 7th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Speaking out about misogyny in the tech world

Reflections regarding gender conflict in the tech world:

The first point is simple. Touching someone without their consent is assault. There is no excuse for not knowing and understanding this painfully simple concept. If you don’t, seek professional help before you hurt someone.

The second point, though, demonstrates just how pervasive misogyny is in the technology and open source community. I am extremely disturbed at the number of “LOL STFU you asked for it” posts. “Suck it up, if you can’t take ...

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November 7th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Misogyny in the tech world

Worrisome:

At some point, it was too late and too loud to reasonably continue. Everyone cleared out (Nick, you are a *god*, for spending the extra five minutes to clear the carnage, so that I could wake up in a room that showed no signs of what had happened the night before!), and we headed to the Irish pub next door that has become our local.

Some food, a few more beers. Squeezing everyone up so I could sit next to someone ...

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November 7th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

When backups fail

Worrisome.

Source

November 7th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

How the US Revolutionary War was paid for

An interesting bit of history, with many wise comments from Benjamin Franklin.

Source

November 7th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Don’t go to the Left Bank if you want to be a great writer

After the scene became famous, and people started going simply because it was famous, Hemingway warned young writers against going to Paris and getting sucked into the literary scene – no truly great writing would come of that, in his opinion.

Here is the updated, 2010 version of the same advice:

If you’ve taken a deep dive into tech startups, you know about the scene. The scene is the siren song of the innovation community. The scene will kill you.

The ...

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November 7th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Get the timing right

Chris Dixon:

I never had the opportunity to invest in YouTube but I have to admit that if I did I probably would have passed (which of course would have been a huge mistake). I’d been around the web long enough to remember the dozens of companies before YouTube that tried to create crowdsourced video sites and failed. Based on “pattern recognition” (a dangerous thing to rely on), I was deeply skeptical of the space.

What I failed to appreciate was that ...

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November 7th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The endless worry of non-support in future Linux desktop software

I keep worrying that Evolution will simply stop at some point, which makes me leery about using it at all. Though I use Thunderbird and I hate how buggy it is.

Shane Fagan writes:

There is a calender, a notes thing, a tasks thing and contacts but how much of it do we actually use? I use the contacts and the email stuff myself but I haven’t used the others at all. There are other programs to do those things ...

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November 5th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Colin Steele: “The last programming language I will ever learn: Clojure”

Colin Steele on Clojure:

Although it has taken me years to introspect into that experience deeply, I defer to the words of Paul Graham:

“Programming languages are not merely technologies, but habits of mind as well.” – http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html

By finding another programming language, I stumbled into new and more effective habits of mind. Ruby made me a better programmer.

Looking back, I see that some wiser part of me, not the conscious-mind part, already knew that maxim, long before it became clear to ...

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November 5th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Ubuntu giving up on X

Ubuntu is getting serious about the end user experience:

But we don’t believe X is setup to deliver the user experience we want, with super-smooth graphics and effects. I understand that it’s *possible* to get amazing results with X, but it’s extremely hard, and isn’t going to get easier. Some of the core goals of X make it harder to achieve these user experiences on X than on native GL, we’re choosing to prioritize the quality of experience over those original ...

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November 4th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Copyright penalties in Europe

Copyright in Europe, versus the USA.

Accused file-swapper Jammie Thomas-Rasset was yesterday hit with a $1.5 million fine for downloading and distributing tunes by Richard Marx, Journey, Def Leppard, the Goo Goo Dolls, No Doubt, and others. Each of the 24 songs at issue in the case cost her $62,500. Meanwhile, the same offense in Germany might cost you €15 ($21) a song.

In October, the Hamburg Regional Court ruled on the case of a young man accused of sharing the songs ...

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November 4th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Copyright infringement

Public domain? (related to my last post)

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very ...

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November 4th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

I own everything that you write

This is funny.

Source

November 4th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The incredible performance that Facebook gets from MySql

Interesting.

Source

November 3rd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Why is medical research into aging uniquely controversial?

I do find this puzzling. Research into aging seems to be uniquely controversial.

About the Methuselah Foundation, I’ve been very interested in biomedical research, and one area that’s been very underfunded is research on the causes of aging and what to do to slow down the aging process. It’s sort of odd to me why people find it so controversial. It seems to me that in general, it’s something that people would be very supportive of – that people could ...

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November 2nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Converting Latin1 characters to UTF8 in MySql

This summarizes the problem. And points here:

Turning MySql latin1 in UTF8

Source

November 2nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Git for beginners

A good read.

Source

November 2nd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The solution is to yell a lot

I like the thought that all of the problems in the world can be solved by getting angry and yelling a lot.

Source

November 2nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What makes a landing page effective?

Interesting.

Source

October 31st, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The truth about the Tea Party

A friend from Australia writes:

So Lawrence, in a nutshell, what’s this Tea Party all about. Who’s hosting it? What tea are they serving? Plastic cups or ceramic?

I reply to her:

Sam, the tea party is made up of people who like tea. Very patriotic, country loving people who like tea. In fact, they love tea. They love tea very much. And they are upset, because there is a rumor going around that President Obama doesn’t like tea. The media has ...

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October 30th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Do stuff

Sometimes the most important part of a project is doing it:

You see, he is an awesome programmer and has worked with me enough to know that I do all right myself. At various times, both of us have implemented bits and pieces of the technology that makes up Facebook. It doesn’t look like all that big a deal.

I answered, “Because we didn’t think of it.”

The technical details may or may not have been a big deal. Once implemented, they look ...

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October 30th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Drugs that make you smart, but rob you of your creativity

Interesting:

It was originally designed for narcoleptics, but clinical trials stumbled across something odd: if you give it to non-narcoleptics, they become smarter. Their memory and concentration improves considerably, and so does their IQ. There were no known side-effects, except – oh, thank you! – weight loss.

I hunted it down online. A week later, the little white pills arrived in the post. Within a few hours of a 200mg dose, I found myself gliding into a state of long, deep concentration, ...

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October 29th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Sam Ruby says using Twitter needs to carry an obligation

A fascinating point, made in the comments:

I’m less interested in the irony; I’m fascinated by the implications… what happens if jcgregorio is deleted? What happens if somebody else takes control of that account?

Part of what makes this work is that (nearly) everybody has a twitter account. Another part is people caring about the implications. I’m a bit concerned that the latter check/balance is lacking here… More precisely: your choice to use Twitter for authentication does not ...

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October 29th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Lethal injection

John Cole writes:

The NY Times has an op-ed on why lethal injection is in fact tantamount to torture, and I can’t help but think writing about this is just an exercise in futility. The American people are about to go to the polls and elect a large number of people who enthusiastically embrace torture of anyone the government yanks off the street. Does anyone think they give a shit if a condemned man is tortured? I’m really very pessimistic about ...

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October 28th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Work is like crystal meth

Interesting:

Sometimes work is like crystal meth in it’s addictive capacity. Usually you’re pushed by ambition to achieve in every sense of the word. Sometimes you’re pushed by a fear of losing ground. It’s not as much of a roller coaster as everyone has made it out to be, but I’m usually pretty level. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a powerful experience. I have no doubt that this will change the way that I operate in any professional capacity ...

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October 27th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

No Comments

A lost decade now seems likely

This seems cheerful:

With a political stalemate expected, further action will now be blocked. A lost decade seems quite likely. That would be a calamity for the US – and the world.

Source

October 27th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Magnetic Fields has a documentary

There is a documentary about Magnetic Fields that is opening today.

Source

October 25th, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

How bad can Yahoo be?

It takes some truly bad configuration to misplace the error document.

Source

October 23rd, 2010

In Philosophy

2 Comments

The stuff that gets downvoted on Hacker News

In recent months (with some worry that I might be wasting my time) I started to become active participating in conversations on Hacker News. I guess the hope is that these conversations might be more intelligent than what happens in most other open forums on the web. More recently my view has swung round to what I initially feared: this might be a waste of time. Comments can be upvoted or downvoted, and recently people have become aggressive about downvoting ...

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October 23rd, 2010

In Business

5 Comments

A lot of people hate PayPal

I just did a search on Google for “PayPal forums”. I wanted to find their developer forums. However, the first site that comes up is “PayPal Sucks“. If I was PayPal, I would be trying to my developer forum up to the #1 spot.

This reminds me that I need to get Codewi.se free of PayPal. PayPal is simply too risky.

Source

October 22nd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

It is legal to jail break an iPhone

U.S. Declares iPhone Jailbreaking Legal, Over Apple’s Objections

Federal regulators lifted a cloud of uncertainty when they announced it was lawful to hack or “jailbreak” an iPhone, declaring Monday there was “no basis for copyright law to assist Apple in protecting its restrictive business model.”

Jailbreaking is hacking the phone’s OS to allow consumers to run any app on the phone they choose, including applications not authorized by Apple.

Source

October 22nd, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The value of a college education is decreasing

It is worrisome to see some of the people who are promoting this idea. Nevertheless, the gist of the idea matches my own experience – the value of a college degree is decreasing.

Two sets of information were presented to me in the last 24 hours that have dramatically reinforced my feeling that diminishing returns have set in to investments in higher education, with increasing evidence suggesting that we are in one respect “overinvesting” in the field. First, following up ...

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October 21st, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Changing user interfaces for productivity?

Back in the 90s, when I did graphics work, I used Photoshop everyday. I considered myself a true expert.

Just now I wanted to make some trivial changes to a screenshot, so I opened it in CS 4 Photoshop. I spent 15 minutes looking for the move tool. I went to Google and looked up various tutorials, trying to figure out where the tool bar had gone. None of the tutorials seemed to describe what I was dealing with.

In ...

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October 20th, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

Edward Tufte reviews the Windows 7 phone

Tufte on the design of the new Windows phones.

The WP7S screens look as if they were designed for a slide presentation or for a video demo (to be read from a distance) and not for a handheld interface (read from 20 inches). For example, the headline type is too big, too spacious. One design lesson here is that most interface design work should be done at actual final scale and all internal demos should be on actual hardware rather than ...

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October 20th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Why is the market so slow? Why does it take several decades to respond to demand?

Worth asking the question:

After barely changing at all for decades, the startup funding business is now in what could, at least by comparison, be called turmoil. At Y Combinator we’ve seen dramatic changes in the funding environment for startups. Fortunately one of them is much higher valuations.

…For decades there were just those two types of investors, but now a third type has appeared halfway between them: the so-called super-angels.

…There used to be a no man’s land between angels and VCs. ...

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October 20th, 2010

In Business

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Microsoft has huge growth potential in every market on earth due to its broad range of software and services

This sounds like something Steve Ballmer would say:

Here’s what Enron CEO Kenneth Lay said when he addressed his employees at a time when the company was about to implode: “I think our core businesses are extremely strong. We have a very strong competitive advantage. Of course, we are transferring this very successful business model and approach to a lot of new, very large markets globally.”

Words like that can be a form of overcompensation.

“If all my speech is ‘fantastic,’ ‘superb,’ ...

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October 19th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Installing new Emacs major modes

A great summary of how to install new major modes in Emacs.

Source

October 19th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Diem is a CMS built on top of Symfony

Just now looking at Diem. It looks great.

Source

October 19th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What to make of RawStory?

The crew at RawStory is a little strange. Every year they do a fundraiser to build a new, better website. But no new site ever gets built. Back in early 2007 myself and a friend had long talks with them. They had an ambitious list of things they wanted: community features, everyone gets a blog, voting articles to the front page, integration with Digg (this was when Digg was at its peak), every element of the interface Ajax ...

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October 19th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Lisp on a Mac

Great summary of installing software to work with Lisp on a Mac.

Source

October 19th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

No Comments

Gender and bias in the tech industry

Detrimental stereotypes that male programmers do not have to face, and which female programmers can not easily avoid.

Source

October 19th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

XML and Clojure

Possibly out of date, but I learned a lot reading this code for XML rendering from Clojure.

Source

October 19th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Enclojure wants Maven 2

I just wrote a little script in Clojure in NetBeans. Using the Enclojure plugin. I had downloaded Maven 3, but I got an error, and then NetBeans downloaded a bunch of Maven 2.2 stuff when I tried to compile. I didn’t see anything that said Maven 2.2 was mandatory, but it seems to be.

I think I will stick with Emacs, but the mix of NetBeans and Enclojure seems to offer a lot of nice bells and whistles for doing ...

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October 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Mandelbrot fractals with Clojure

The Mandelbrot fractal done with Clojure.

The technique is from Melinda Green:

Source

October 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Clojure has complicated error messages

Some interesting criticism of Clojure:

This connection to Java also turned out to be an issue with having clear error messages. For instance, I misread the docs for the ffirst function, thinking it took the second item from a sequence instead of being caar (if you don’t know what caar is, don’t worry about it). When I tried to do (ffirst [0 1]) to get at 1, the error message was like this:

Exception in thread “main” java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Don’t know how to ...

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October 18th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Obama has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity

Paul Krugman delivers this blistering attack on the Obama administration:

Surely this can serve as a generic statement:

As NAME ISSUE HERE has come to light, the Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook the banks and hobble the broader economy. Stimulus, bank rescue, China, foreclosure; it applies all along. At each point there were arguments for not acting; but the cumulative effect has been drift, and a looming catastrophe in the midterms.

Or ...

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October 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

LispWorks

I was just testing LispWorks. This looks like a great IDE for doing Lisp development on a Mac.

Source

October 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Macintosh multi-core

One hell of a nice computer.

There’s nothing special in the 2010 Mac Pro hardware vs. the 2009 with regard to 64-bit. Apple was just giving driver developers some time to polish their 64-bit ports, so they could flick the switch without tossing end users into an unsupported printer hell. I have switched between 32-bit and 64-bit kernel modes since 10.6 came out, and I haven’t noticed any difference in performance. What benchmarks I’ve tried showed speed to be the same.

But ...

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October 18th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Overview of Clojure

A nice overview of Clojure.

Source

October 15th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

No Comments

Subtle subconscious bias and gender

Interesting:

Reacting to Subtle Discrimination

As discussed in Section , women are often the victims of subtle subconscious bias. For example, a woman may find that comments are primarily directed to men in a group, unintentionally leaving her out. If the woman does not feel comfortable directly confronting the individuals in question, there are more diplomatic methods of calling the behavior to the person’s attention:

In a meeting of three computer science students, the sole female found herself ignored by one of the ...

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October 15th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Fabien Potencier takes PHP seriously

It’s possible that Fabien Potencier is the best programmer in the world who takes PHP seriously.

Source

October 14th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The contract is broken for open source developers

Important, if true:

What has happened though isn’t so much that these companies are “stealing” but that they forgot the contract. The unwritten contract held between corporations and FLOSS developers was basically this:

“I, FLOSS developer, agree to create software and release it for free so long as you, corporation, give me recognition, a job, or at least help build it.”

Consumer internet companies however are just not bothering with this. They frequently will use software and then slander the author of it ...

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October 13th, 2010

In Business

1 Comment

Steve Blank writing about Customer Education

I just got done reading Steven Gary Blank’s book, The Four Steps To The Epiphany. This is one of the best books that exists for startups.

For me, the biggest insight that I take away from this is his emphasis on customer education. He says this is especially important when you are in a new market. Traditional marketing activities like “branding” and “positioning” are a waste of time if you are in a new market. If you try to position ...

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October 13th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

How to get an old copy of a file out of Subversion

This article is sub-titled “Subversion is retarded“, a sentiment I agree with. When you want to resurrect old files, you have to use either the “copy” command, or the “merge” command, neither of which is intuitively named for when you are trying to get an old, dead file.

Source

October 13th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

The FBI is spying on everyone

This college student ended up under FBI surveillance, not because of anything he did, but because he was friends with a guy who wrote a comment on reddit about how easily terrorists could bomb shopping malls, if they really wanted to.

Source

October 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Setting indent in Emacs

Since the Symfony framework defaults to using spaces for tabs, I suspect I will often need to remind myself how to set the spacing of tabs:

(setq-default indent-tabs-mode nil) (setq-default tab-width 4) (setq indent-line-function ‘insert-tab)

Source

October 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The size of the Universe

This is a great summary of the size of the Universe.

Source

October 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Useful emacs tips

This post has some useful emacs tips.

This also has some good basics.

Source

October 10th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

A single founder is a vote of no confidence?

Paul Graham says:

Have you ever noticed how few successful startups were founded by just one person? Even companies you think of as having one founder, like Oracle, usually turn out to have more. It seems unlikely this is a coincidence.

What’s wrong with having one founder? To start with, it’s a vote of no confidence. It probably means the founder couldn’t talk any of his friends into starting the company with him. That’s pretty alarming, because his friends are the ones ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Business

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Similarities among entrepreneurs of both genders

Interesting:

We learned that the average age of a successful tech-company founder isn’t 21 as is commonly believed in Silicon Valley, but 39; or, in the broader universe of high-growth companies, 40. Founders of high-growth companies are likely to be married and to have two or more kids. They typically have six to ten years of work experience and real-world ideas. They start companies because they get tired of working for others and want to build wealth before they retire. What ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Not having kids

Interesting:

As for my own personal experience, I have chosen not to have children. I like the freedom and control I have over my time. My husband and I love to travel, we share a variety of other passions including the arts, cuisine, and culture. I am balancing an entrepreneurial career, a writing career, and I still make time to dance, something that has remained important to me throughout my life.

You see, there are several key factors that we balance in ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Philosophy

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An entrepreneur tells their employees: my family is more important than you

A good point about the negative effect on morale, when an entrepreneur prioritizes their children above the importance of the company (and thereby the career of one’s employees). Employees who work for your startup are placing a lot of trust in you – trust not to be thrown away lightly.

How might ambitious employees react when an entrepreneur says “My family is more important than you?”

SM: Your message is that you need to prioritize and that your priorities can ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Business

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Interviewing women for tech jobs, as technique for avoiding discrimination

Interesting:

At an executive forum at the conference, I had a chance to discuss, with companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Symantec, the challenges they face in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women technologists. Their common conclusion was that their company’s success depends on hiring the best talent. They knew, though, that the best talent sometimes was passed over because of unintentional discrimination caused the stereotype that women do not make good techies.

The remedy we discussed was to require ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

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Mom and dad can either be the solution, or they can be the problem

Vivek Wadhwa on social forces that keep women out of the tech industry:

I realized what the biggest societal problem is, when listening to three great women tell their stories at the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Awards Banquet, last Wednesday: Mom and Dad.

My former dean and mentor at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, Kristina Johnson, attributed much of her success to her parents. Her father, an electrical engineer, taught her the joy of building things ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

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Career, marriage, divorce and remarriage again

This is an interesting career story:

SM: After you gave up freelance programming, did you find a job?

TT: I received a job offer from ADS Associates, but I was five months pregnant. My mother told me that I had to tell them I was pregnant; otherwise, they would never trust me. I gave them the option of rescinding the job offer before they put anything in writing. My manager told me that he had to think about it. I called ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

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Women’s choices regarding career and entrepreneurship

This is a great overview of what various different women said about their diverse experiences.

SM: I am personally, philosophically, against people staying home as moms because I think it leads to a huge identity crisis. It sounds like what you are doing is mitigating some of that. There is a book on the bestseller list right now called ‘In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms’. I was cringing when I saw that. [Dr. Laura Schlessinger], who wrote that book, is the ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Technology

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A final fixed form is death

Lost in my last post was this sentence:

Candidate organisms include perennial trees and modular organisms like sponges which can reproduce both sexually and asexually, but also sexually reproducing vertebrates that continue somatic growth after maturation, like fish and turtles.

That seems to sum it up. Creatures that continue to grow forever, like fish and turtles, also seem able to live forever. But creatures that grow old, like elephants and birds and humans, have a final, fixed, mature form, and its ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Technology

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Negligible senescence

Interesting:

This seemed to me a demographic equivalent to ‘negligible senescence’, which may be conceptualized as the extreme of slow aging in a continuum, with the other extreme of rapid senescence representing very short-lived adults. If humans did not experience aging with accelerating mortality, their median lifespan could be estimated as 1,200 years, assuming 0th order kinetics like radioactive decay, and the decay constant from the IMR of a typical 20th century population [1, pp. 28–29]. Additional criteria included maintenance of ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Technology

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Why do we get old?

Humans could live 1,200 years with suspended senescence. I was wondering how long humans could live if their senescence could be suspended the way it is suspended in turtles. I stumbled upon this:

“In theory, if mortality rates did not increase as usual during aging, humans would live hundreds of years. I have calculated for humans (Finch 1990 book: Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome) that at mortality rates of 0.05% per yr, as found at age 15 in developed countries, the ...

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October 10th, 2010

In Technology

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About Vectors

I found a math book that has allowed me make better sense of vectors. This should give you the flavor (from page 40):

Let the period at the end of this sentence represent a point P.

Where is the point P? We could say it is right there, at the end of the sentence. But where is the sentence? On page 40 of some book? But where is the book? On a table in a certain room on the Earth? Then where ...

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October 9th, 2010

In Technology

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The fifth perfect number is 33,550,336

There are a lot of fields where I can tell the difference between good science and a hoax, but number theory is not one of them. For instance, a perfect number is a positive integer that is the the sum of its positive divisors, and thus, the first perfect number is 6 (1, 2, and 3 are its divisors, and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6). I’m relying on Wikipedia here.

The next perfect number is 28 = ...

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October 9th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Money doesn’t matter, so long as you are among the wealthiest 5%

Sasha Pasulka tries to make the case that men don’t need to work themselves to death, nor get really rich, to consider themselves successful, but she is inconsistent in her view of the importance of the material:

He could easily bring in a low six-figure income at any number of large firms, but he’s somehow got it ingrained that he has to start a wildly successful tech company and make an enormous amount of money in ...

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October 8th, 2010

In Technology

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Cascade and Moustache as a Clojure web frameworks

Cascade looks interesting. Also, Moustache. (Colin Steele pointed me toward both.)

Source

October 8th, 2010

In Technology

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How to get started with a web app written in Clojure?

A good conversation on Stackoverflow.

Source

October 8th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Where to find good UI designers?

I posted on Hacker News about this. I didn’t get the reply I wanted, but it was interestingly to learn about the hacker hiring spinoff to HN.

Source

October 8th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Is there no server monitoring at FourSquare?

Interesting:

so, in short, a company relying entirely on cloud computing machines for storing its data, which is presumably being billed according to the memory usage of those machines, ran out of memory on them, and suffered a large amount of downtime as a result. mongodb had little to do with the problem, other than maybe it took longer than expected to migrate data to a third server.

i’m baffled at how there could be no monitoring or reporting in place to ...

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October 8th, 2010

In Technology

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10 good questions about Symfony

This is a good list of 10 questions and answers about Symfony. These are questions I have often had.

Source

October 8th, 2010

In Business

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Some clients are evil and their work is toxic

I enjoyed this essay.

Source

October 6th, 2010

In Philosophy

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What its like to have kids bully you when you are small

A memoir of bullying.

In eighth grade, I stopped crying at night.

I just went to sleep and prayed that God, the devil, anybody would kill those boys. I wanted them gone. I would have given anything for them to be gone.

In ninth grade, the girls started getting involved. The popular, “hot” girls started doing things like asking me out, then laughing in my face before I could answer. They would invite me to come to parties or hang-outs and then ...

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October 6th, 2010

In Technology

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Ruby and Python are terribly slow, I assume PHP is as well

I like this chart with the speeds of various languages. I wish PHP was on there. One thing that jumps out is how dramatically slow to interpreted script languages are, like Python and Ruby. I assume PHP is down there as well. I recall one test that showed PHP was about 100 times slower than certain similar functions written in C.

I’m a little amazed at how well Java does. I know huge amounts of effort have gone into speeding ...

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October 6th, 2010

In Technology

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How many design patterns should a software project have?

This quote is from 2005, and I do not think it got the attention it deserved:

Erich Gamma: This is definitely the way I’d recommend that people use patterns. Do not start immediately throwing patterns into a design, but use them as you go and understand more of the problem. Because of this I really like to use patterns after the fact, refactoring to patterns. One comment I saw in a news group just after patterns started to become more popular ...

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October 6th, 2010

In Technology

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What to do when clients push you to move faster than what would allow good quality code

Don’t do it.

Source

October 6th, 2010

In Technology

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How many different video formats do you need to publish if you want to use the new video tag?

An interesting bit about using the video tag now available in HTML 5.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Technology

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How to have a separate layout template for every user, in Symfony

A clever use of filters: How to have a separate layout template for every user, in Symfony.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Technology

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Slippery object handling in Symfony

In Symfony, the sfContext lets you set() and get() any object. This makes it easy to move objects around in the code, from one place to another. Convenient, but dangerous. If you ever reuse the same name of an object, you will get a hard to find bug.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

30 year Treasuries now trade for 3.676%. Think about it.

If you would like to give the government a million dollars, the government will happily give you $36,760 a year for the next 30 years. (Several key rates hit all time lows this week.) If you would like to get so rich that you can live comfortably on your asset income forever, you will need… uh, wow. Being a millionaire is not what it used to be.

The amazing thing here is not the low rate, but that this is ...

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October 5th, 2010

In Technology

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Newer JVM build tools

Leiningen. Gradle. Buildr. All projects set up in reaction against the perceived complexity of Ant and Maven. I guess they represent the new generation of build tools. (All of them seem to rely on the idea of a DSL and declarative statements?) “New” is a relative term, of course – Martin Fowler mentions Buildr in 2005.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Why are technical recruiters so clueless about technology, and about the tech industry?

Interesting.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Make, Ant, Maven: the problems with Java build systems

Interesting.

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Microsoft Internet Explorer now has less than 50% market share

Praise be!

Source

October 5th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

WordPress constantly loses my work

The thing I hate most about WordPress is the way it quietly logs me out, while I’m writing a post. When I am done writing the post, I hit submit and, poof, everything that I wrote is gone! I am suddenly looking at a login screen and my article is gone. Even better, WordPress stops auto-saving once it has logged out, so any draft lacks whatever I wrote during the last 20 minutes.

This just happened to me now, so ...

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October 2nd, 2010

In Philosophy

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And the subordinate pigs’s habit of reclining idly by the trough is rewarded too

From Richard Dawkins book, The Selfish Gene.

The most satisfying example of a paradoxical strategy known to me involves domestic pigs in a Skinner box. The strategy is stable in the same sense an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, but it is better called a DSS (“developmentally stable strategy”) because it arises during the animals own lifetimes rather than over evolutionary time. A Skinner box is an apparatus in which an animal learns to feed itself by pressing a lever, food then ...

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October 2nd, 2010

In Philosophy

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Air views of housing developments in Florida

Some fascinating photos of development in Florida.

Source

September 30th, 2010

In Technology

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The transition to IP 6 will be painful

This sounds worrisome, though I wonder if this is like the Y2K bug we were all suppose to be afraid of, which then did nothing.

Source

September 30th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Joys that endanger our identity

Interesting:

I also wonder: why are so many of us (including me) so reluctant to experiment with so many joys with strong fans? After all, fans argue, their suggested drug, sex style, or religious experience would only take a few hours to try, and could give us a lifetime of joy if we liked it. It seems we see far larger costs than the time for a trial. My guess: we value our current identity, integrated as it is into ...

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September 30th, 2010

In Technology

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Optimizing MySql

A good, simple post on how to interpret the output of EXPLAIN, for MySql.

Source

September 30th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

MySql search has no way to describe a string as literal (as a word) – it stumbles on periods

This week I’ve been battling against MySql’s limits. Apparently its builtin search (MATCH/AGAINST) can not handle acronyms divided by periods. MySql fails badly here:

SELECT * from chocolate_log WHERE ( MATCH( BRAND_PLUS ) AGAINST (+”C.A.O” ) ) ORDER BY score desc, TASTING_DATE DESC, SORT_BY ASC;

There is no way to get MySql to see the C.A.O. There are no quotes that allow this to become a literal, and there is no special notation that would allow me to mark this as a ...

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September 29th, 2010

In Technology

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Linux memory management collides with MySql

Interesting.

Source

September 29th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

SilverPop will not support Google Chrome any time soon

I’ve been doing some work using the SilverPop service. I wrote to them and asked them why they did not support Google Chome. They replied:

Hello Lawrence:

Google Chrome is not supported and unfortunately, I do not have an ETA as to when this will change.

I have created an Enhancement Request for you. Our Development Team will take into consideration your suggestion and will make a decision as to whether include it in a future release. However, because ...

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September 29th, 2010

In Business, Philosophy

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Women who post photos of their children, rather than themselves, on Facebook

Interesting:

These Facebook photos signal a larger and more ominous self-effacement, a narrowing of our worlds. Think of a dinner party you just attended, and your friend, who wrote her senior thesis in college on Proust, who used to stay out drinking till five in the morning in her twenties, a brilliant and accomplished woman. Think about how throughout the entire dinner party, from olives to chocolate mousse, she talks about nothing but her kids. You waited, and because you love ...

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September 29th, 2010

In Business, Technology

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Why Unix survived

Interesting:

For Unix, the point of modularity was reached early in the 1990′s and, through the Linux implementation, it allowed the lowest layers of the software to become commoditized (and free). This commodity status was actually what Microsoft tried to avoid by integrating Windows with the layers above it. This was a conscious and deliberate decision which also led to trouble with anti-trust regulators. The decision seemed to have paid off. Microsoft won.

However, the very strategy which Microsoft used to maintain ...

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September 28th, 2010

In Philosophy

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People who hate Paul Krugman

I think it erodes a person’s credibility when they admit this much emotion regarding someone they disagree with.

But as I wrote my rebuttal to Krugman’s recent posts, I was surprised to feel a blazing anger towards the man—not towards his policies, or even towards his less-than-honest attempts to fudge facts in order to score points— —I found that I despised Krugman: With a passion.

A policy disagreement is not enough to get me to despise anyone. I’ve had plenty of big ...

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September 28th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Atheists did better than most on a survey about religion

Apparently people who identify as Christians did poorly answering questions about various religions. Of course, for a lot of people, “Christian” is more of an identity than a religion. They call themselves Christian because their parents were Christian, but they have not been to church as adults, save for weddings. I’ve read also that atheists have a higher average IQ than the general population.

Clergy members who are concerned that their congregants know little about the essentials of their own ...

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September 28th, 2010

In Business

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Why is Microsoft giving up on its own platform and giving its users to WordPress.com?

Interesting. Microsoft seems to lack anything resembling a strategy. I recall circa 1993 hearing about Windows NT and thinking that it sounded amazing. I later learned that its “amazingness” was all marketing hype. Seems like its been awhile since Microsoft was able to create that kind of unearned admiration around its products. It has lost the marketing talent it once had.

Source

September 28th, 2010

In Business

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TechCrunch is a dipshit company says TechCrunch

A great comment down in the comments:

A $25M – $40MM sale, doesn’t this make techcrunch a “dip shit company”?

Michael Arrington complained about entrepreneurs who create “dipshit companies” that just sell out for $25 million. He wanted more entrepreneurs to build super huge companies like Google. But now he has done exactly what he was complaining about.

Source

September 27th, 2010

In Technology

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How wiki software goes downhill

Interesting.

Source

September 27th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

What Dorkbot needs

A friend and I went to Dorkbot (the September meeting). This was perhaps the best Dorkbot we’ve been to, and I’ve gone a half dozen times over the last 2 years. Afterwards, my friend said something wise about what made this meeting so good. Simon Burton was something of a quack. BabyCastles represented the youth scene, and the Brooklyn scene, and the game scene, 3 things that almost never appear at Dorkbot. My friend said “Too many of Dorkbot ...

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September 27th, 2010

In Technology

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Too contrarian

Interesting:

If dwelling on the benefits of a great evil is not your thing, you can also pretend to be wise by dwelling on the costs of a great good. All things considered, modern industrial civilization – with its advanced technology, its high standard of living, and its lack of typhoid fever – is pretty neat. But modern industrial civilization also has many costs: alienation from nature, strains on the traditional family, the anonymity of big city life, pollution ...

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September 26th, 2010

In Technology

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Filesort invoked when ORDER BY clause used on a text field in MySql

A nice example of how not to do things, someone used a text field to store dates.

mysql> CREATE INDEX game_id_date ON hints (game_id, date(10)); Query OK, 1001 rows affected (0.04 sec) Records: 1001 Duplicates: 0 Warnings: 0

mysql> EXPLAIN SELECT * FROM hints WHERE game_id = 374 ORDER BY date DESC;

+——-+——+—————+————–+———+——-+——+—————————–+ ...

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September 26th, 2010

In Technology

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B-tree versus R-tree indexes for different searches in MySql

I didn’t realize that b-tree and r-tree indexes were optimized for different kinds of comparisons:

Match index types to the type of comparisons you perform. When you create an index, most storage engines choose the index implementation they Match index types to the type of comparisons you perform. When you create an index, most storage engines choose the index implementation they will use. For example, InnoDB always uses B-tree indexes. MySQL also uses B-tree indexes, except that it uses R-tree indexes ...

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September 26th, 2010

In Technology

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Small fields speed lookup speed in MySql

I’d previously thought the main reason to keep VARCHAR definitions short was to save disk space. Since disk space is cheap, I had not thought this was very important. I’d happily put down VARCHAR(255) if I thought the field might ever, in the future, need 255 characters, even though in the short term I knew that the field was not going to be used that way. But now, to my surprise, I read that this has implications for lookup speed: ...

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September 24th, 2010

In Technology

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Are lots of queries faster in MySql than a big JOIN?

I find this hard to believe, but I’ve now read it in several places. Some people seem to think that lots of queries are faster than big JOINs, in MySql.

Source

September 24th, 2010

In Technology

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The limits of MySql, and the possible advantages of PostGreSQL

I feel like I hit the limits of MySql today. We had built a site that depended on a lot of database views. These views did 4 table joins on tables that had perhaps 40,000 records. This was on a site that gets perhaps 300,000 unique visitors a month. The site worked well on our dev server, but once we pushed our changes out to the live site, the servers suffered terribly and became non-responsive repeatedly. The problem was that ...

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September 24th, 2010

In Technology

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Pete Lacey’s satire, The S stands for Simple

For a few days now, Pete Lacey’s website has been down. I only see “Database Error” and a white screen when I go there. I worry that his post “The S stands for Simple” will be lost forever. This was published in 2006, and I sometimes send people to read it, so they can remember the madness of how XML mutated when big firms tried to make it “Enterprise Ready”. So I am reposting the whole thing here.

The S ...

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September 24th, 2010

In Philosophy

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Loneliness is contagious

Interesting:

In other words, loneliness is not so much a symptom of being companionless as it is a driving force behind social isolation. Rather than simply reflecting the emotional state of one person, Cacioppo says, loneliness is more like an indicator of the social health of our species on the whole — a temperature reading, if you will, of how well- or not so well-integrated we are as a population.

That’s an important measure, he says, because we are, by nature, a ...

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September 24th, 2010

In Business

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The USA loses high-end jobs

The USA is becoming a supplier of raw goods, while losing high end jobs:

Take Applied Materials, a big US manufacturing company, which earlier this year shifted its chief technology officer and research and development operations to China. The company said it needed its R&D to be close to the source of its manufacturing operations and to its biggest future market. This is the opposite of what is supposed to happen. America was meant to keep the high-end jobs at home, ...

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September 24th, 2010

In Business

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Ron Conway denounces the attempted collusion among super angel investors

Ron Conway offers sharp criticism of those super angels who attempted illegal collusion.

Source

September 24th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Play music as you move from page to page

My friend Scott Meves has an interesting post about playing music on a site:

Unfortunately, if you want to create ambiance with continuously playing background music (and avoid creating a flash-based website), there is no easy way to accomplish this. I spent some time yesterday and today digging up a workable solution, and found a flash mp3 player that “remembers” the position of the audio when you leave each page and starts the track back up again at that spot on ...

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September 23rd, 2010

In Business

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Michael Arrington’s track record

Everybody hates Michael Arrington, but Derek Andersen points out that Arrington has been right about a lot of the big tech stories this year.

Source

September 23rd, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

What is wrong with .NET

A really great post from a programmer who has decided to quit .NET.

Source

September 23rd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Facebook is not what worth its valuation

Interesting:

But let’s be charitable. Let’s imagine that Facebook miraculously made $200 million this year — a 20% margin. (I don’t think that’s true, otherwise why take another $120 million from Elevation Partners, but hey, let your imagination roam). That would put Facebook’s P/E at some 165.

That’s about 7.5 times as much as Google, the golden cash cow of the internet world. Would you seriously think that Facebook is 7.5 times as good or as promising a business as Google? Get ...

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September 23rd, 2010

In Technology

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Leiningen and Clojure

Colin Steele writes:

If you’re debugging clojure, here’s an easy way to set jswat’s classpath by launching jswat from lein

and he offers the code to do it. I have not used Leiningen so I started looking for information about it. Zef offers this description:

Everybody who once used Java, struggled with Java’s classpath at some point during their career. You have to put all the right paths in there, the right .jar files and so on, both when compiling and running ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

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Why is Wandisco investing in Subversion?

Wandisco explains why they are investing in Subversion:

The emergence of GIT has brought with it a breed of DVCS fundamentalists – the ‘Gitterons’ – that think anything other than GIT is crap. The Gitterons seem to think software engineering happens on their own island and often forget that most organizations don’t employ senior software engineers exclusively. That’s ok but it’s not how the rest of the market thinks, and I am happy to prove it: GIT, at the last look ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Does this make a good impression?

Here is a guy accused of illegal collusion, and he tries to defend himself in a blog post full of bad grammar, slang, fonts of different sizes and of multiple colors, lots of curse words, and on odd mix of defensiveness and defiance. There is nothing wrong with any of that, and I try to ignore the silly fonts and colors when I’m reading posts like that, but I am curious about what kind of thinking lead to the writing ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Business

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Is there an attempt at collusion among super angels?

Interesting conversation at Hacker News, about the possibility of collusion among super angels.

Source

September 22nd, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

The problems in the medical industry are due to an obsolete professional culture

I enjoyed reading this interview with James Bagian.

How does the healthcare industry compare to engineering and aeronautics when it comes to dealing with human error?

Not favorably. Much of my background is in what’s called high-reliability industries—the ones that operate under conditions of high hazard yet seldom have a bad event—and people in those fields tend to have a systems perspective. We’re not terribly interested in what some individual did. We want to know what led up to a bad event ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Business

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Is the climate heating up for startups?

On one hand, it seems odd that the worst recession in living memory would be a good time for startups. On the other hand, with bank CDs paying 1% and Treasuries offering around 0.12%, there must be a lot of investors who are desperate for yield. To the extent that some of that money ends up chasing startups, it becomes possible for me to imagine how a recession might also be a good time for startup funding. The rhetoric of ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

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Incanter is a Clojure-based, R-like platform for statistical computing and graphics

I linked to this once before, but I want to remind myself of it. Incanter is a Clojure-based, R-like platform for statistical computing and graphics. Since it looks like R is likely going to be abandoned, I will need to find some other statistical package to work with, for what data mining I do (which is, very little so far, but I have some projects in mind).

Source

September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

2 Comments

Happy second thoughts about Emacs

I learned Xemacs in 2006, when I was working at Category4. That place had the kind of setup where it made sense to spend all day in ssh, working on the dev server. (Surprisingly, there was no version control at that place. It was the last professional outfit where I worked that lacked version control. Since then, every project I’ve worked on has used Subversion.)

For some reason, I switched to simpler text editors after I left Category 4.

This ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

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Setting up Clojure and Emacs

I wrote about this earlier today, but here is another post on setting up Clojure and Emacs. I post this mostly as a note to myself.

Source

September 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Incoherent ranting in TechCrunch comments

Sarah Lacy notes that the world of startups have suffered less than the general economy, during the most recent recession. The conversation that follows in the comment is very odd, with a degree of aggressive insults aimed at Lacy that I have some trouble understanding.

Source

September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Things I dislike about the Symfony framework

I wish I could be grateful:

A lot of awesome stuff has been added recently to the next major symfony release, 1.2. Fabien has worked very hard to add without a doubt the most sophisticated features of any PHP framework that exists today. Not only are they nice features but he has implemented them in a OO way so that it is easy for me to implement the same features with another ORM, Doctrine. All this is done with very little ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Technology

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Clojure, Lisp and Emacs

I was about to write that it is painful to study Clojure and Emacs Lisp at the same time, because of the very slight differences in syntax, which are hard to keep straight when you are just learning everything for the first time. In the course of some Google searching, I came upon this post, which I like very much:

I spent some considerable time yesterday poring over the shelves in the programmer’s section of a local bookstore yesterday. Based ...

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September 22nd, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Ben and Mena Trott were not entrepreneurial types

Ben and Mena Trott have always fascinated me. There is something a little sad about the way they stumbled into success and then did not know how to handle it. Now their company is disappearing. I posted my thoughts at Hacker News, and dotBen responded:

For me SixApart failed because the founders lacked vision as they were not entrepreneurial types (your outline is spot on) and their success was all very accidental (and somewhat opportunistic by the folks that put ...

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September 21st, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Are there any customers for your product?

I have been reading Steven Gary Blank’s book Four Steps to the Epiphany. This is best book I’ve yet read on how to launch a startup. What I appreciate most about it is the extent to which Blank makes clear that the rules for startups are very different than the rules for established businesses.

This is from page 36:

The idea that a startup builds its product for a small group of initial customers, rather than devising a generic mainstream ...

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September 21st, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Can you do Ycombinator if you are over the age of 30?

Interesting post on doing Ycombinator at the age of 31.

Source

September 21st, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Michael Arrington claims he found several major angel investors engaged in illegal collusion

Writing at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington claims to have been given tip about a meeting of super angel investors, and, upon investigating, found they were engaged in illegal collusion.

Source

September 21st, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Visionary customers

I have been reading Steven Gary Blank’s book Four Steps to the Epiphany. He does a great job of bringing out how much startups are different from large, established companies. When you are launching a startup, you do not pitch to mainstream customers, but rather, you go looking for a very special kind of customer. This is from page 33:

In a traditional product management and marketing process the goal is to develop a Marketing Requirements Document (MRD) for engineering. ...

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September 21st, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Clojure macro tutorial

A Clojure macro tutorial. I have been working half-heartedly to learn Clojure. I am really enjoying reading the Learning Clojure blog. As of yet, I’m still sort of like, “What can I do with a macro that I couldn’t do with a closure?” Because, you can sort of imitate almost anything else with a closure. But perhaps when I understand macros better, I will understand what they offer that is so unique.

Source

September 21st, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

The problem with reputation points, and other forms of game mechanics

Money forces a certain amount of seriousness. Even small amounts of money make a discussion serious. Trying to use game mechanics, and a points system, removes that seriousness, because games are not serious, unless there is money involved:

Stack Overflow uses ‘reputation’ points and an achievement system to promote high activity among its users. I think that as the opportunity to increase your reputation and your number of achievements dwindled, so did a lot of user activity. There’s a plateau ...

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September 20th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Being poor

Well written:

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never ...

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September 20th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Linux kernel leaves open path to run script right before a process dumps core

A very interesting trick.

Source

September 20th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Skills atrophy after 20 years at one job

An interesting comment at Hacker News:

My work history is peppered mostly with companies of less than 20 people, and a good chunk of it at companies under 10. However, the job or two I have had — and the interactions I’ve had with comparable consulting clients — in places structurally describable as “enterprise” left me with an enormous appreciation of how differently a lot of the labour force there operates. Most of the people I worked with were strict 9-to-5ers ...

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September 20th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What does it mean to be rich?

An interesting take on what the word “wealthy” means, in terms of dollars and cents.

Source

September 20th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Income inequality

When I was in Berlin, I noted that there seemed to be less status competition, compared to the USA. Paul Krugman speaks of a “rat race” in America:

What Brad doesn’t say, but is also true, is that the status anxiety created by high inequality means that the rich-but-not-rich-enough often lead worse lives than their somewhat poorer counterparts did a few decades ago: they work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and spend more on things that don’t give them pleasure ...

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September 20th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Freelancing is increasingly understood and accepted in the USA

This guy has no idea how easy things are in 2010:

Mortgage companies don’t get it, and nobody else really will, either. (I mean, except other freelancers. Freelancers should form a support group for one another. I guess maybe they already have? I think it’s called “Twitter.”) Go ahead, try explaining to your in-laws what you do. Or your parents. Or that new girl you’re trying to sex up. Nobody seems to believe that freelancing is real. It’s as if you’re ...

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September 19th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What do people want?

I once thought about writing a novel. Later I thought about writing a script for a movie. At some point, I asked myself, “What would be a hit?” It is surprising how hard it is to come up with something both original and yet that would be almost certainly a hit. Sort of like a startup.

When I said at the beginning that if you make something users want, you’ll be fine, you may have noticed I didn’t mention anything about ...

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September 18th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Does anyone want co-founders on a startup?

An argument that single founder startups can succeed. One often wants co-founders in a startup to help share the work, for equity instead of money, though I would think being a single founder would be more fun, since you do get to experiment with your own ideas more, rather than reach compromises with co-founders.

Source

September 17th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Reddit is friendly to hackers, Digg is not

Interesting:

I received a friendly email from Steve Huffman telling me what they’d done and asking me what I was up to. When I explained he replied that ‘reddit likes hacks’, and that my little game had exposed a problem they’d been aware of with comment performance that they’d been meaning to fix.

I never did go back and create the full game, but I was left with a very different impression of Digg and reddit.

Ultimately, I think the cultural difference comes ...

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September 17th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Bash history lets you go way, way back

I wish I knew this a long time ago. Sometimes I need to type out a very long bash command, and then an hour later I need to redo it. I’ve always wished that I could simply summon that same command from the past. Well, apparently this is possible, I just didn’t know how. Here is a great little summary of how to use Bash History.

Source

September 16th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

User feedback is good, but sometimes betrays a lack of confidence

Google’s data driven testing can lead to bland designs:

Google’s design process—if you can call it that—revolves entirely around engineering-driven solutions and something I will call “data thinking”: present the problem as a mathematical formula like any other, come up with systematic solutions that attempt to solve the problem and its various “problem components” (think individual UI buttons, copy text, visual design and so forth), then employ testing until a final result is produced

Source

September 16th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Groupon can bankrupt small businesses

For a coffeeshop, Groupon can lead to huge losses.

Source

September 16th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Steven Gary Blank: I hadn’t just lost a potential advisor I had lost an irreplaceable opportunity

Some people are worth fighting for:

I hadn’t just lost a potential advisor I had lost an irreplaceable opportunity. We lost him not just over a stock offer. We lost him because we had treated him as a commodity – something that was readily available from multiple sources – and that you could negotiate its price.

In reality what I had in front of me was an opportunity – a favorable combination of circumstances that rarely occurs and if seized upon would ...

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September 16th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Income inequality

Why has income inequality increased in the USA?

Finally – the role of organizations. Hacker and Pierson suggest that organizations play a key role in pushing through policy change (and a very important role in elections too). They typically trump voters (who lack information, are myopic, are not focused on the long term) in shaping policy decisions. Here, it is important that the organizational landscape of the US is dramatically skewed. There are many very influential organizations pushing the interests ...

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September 16th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Computers are coming to the people

This is Stewart Brand, writing in the Rolling Stones, in 1972:

That’s good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. It’s way off the track of the “Computers – Threat or menace? school of liberal criticism but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the forefathers of the science such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann and Vannevar Bush.

The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: The youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the ...

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September 15th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Color palettes

The colors in use by some recent websites.

Source

September 15th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What is an idealist?

I like this writer, but they should be careful, because what they are writing could easily be mistaken for a kind of whining:

I worked there from 1995 – 2005, and saw Silicon Valley take in the world’s best and brightest. Unlike other fortune-seekers, many of us were idealists, the kind of people who in a different time might have become teachers, doctors and social workers. In 1997, just after Netscape’s public offering inaugurated the Internet era, medical school applications declined ...

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September 15th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What exactly is a hero?

This is an unusual take on what it means to be a hero:

It’s hard to believe we once saw Bill as the pie-splattered villain, and others as the idealists. And it’s hard to understand why, even now, the entrepreneur whom our youth admire far more than Bill Gates is someone who has had great commercial success but little interest in the world around him.

Missing from this account is the fact that the courts found that Microsoft repeatedly broke ...

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September 15th, 2010

In Technology

4 Comments

Do web designers and programmers just stop caring after awhile?

I start working at a new place. There are 2 programmers that have been working there awhile. I look at their code. It is atrocious. I am left to wonder if they care at all what another programmer might think of their work.

A friend of mine starts working at a web design shop. Many of the programmers who are there have been there for 3 or 4 years. They are in the habit of cranking out bad code at a ...

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September 15th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Why do we have last names?

Last names are an outgrowth of the need of the government to tax people:

Until at least the fourteenth century, the great majority of Europeans did not have permanent patronyms. An individual’s name was typically his given name, which normally would suffice for local, vernacular. If something else were required, a second local designation was added indicating (in the English case), say, occupation (smith, miller, baker), geographical location (edgewood, hill), the father’s given name (in Jewish and Middle Eastern practice preceded ...

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September 15th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Thomas Watson was fired several times, then sentenced to jail

Thomas Watson, the guy who built IBM into one of the world’s largest corporations, had a tumultuous career. He was fired twice from 2 of his early jobs, and quit 2 jobs after a few days. Later he was found guilty of anti-trust violations, and sentenced to a year in jail, though he got out of most of it. Then he became head of IBM.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

37 Signals strict attitude about features

Interesting debate in the comments here about 37 Signals unwillingness to add certain features to Basecamp.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Business, Technology

No Comments

Why did the media promote Haystack?

Jillian C. York reviews the various ways that the media promoted Haystack as the ultimate tool for circumventing dictatorships such as that in Iran.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Power tends to blind you

Interesting bit about the Roman Emperor Justinian I and his confusion about the state of his empire. Power and money can blind you, and keep you from adjusting your mental model to the reality you are actually living in.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Lying, cheating, stealing

When you get rich by lying, cheating and stealing, you need to lay low and avoid the limelight. You can get obscenely rich, but a journalist won’t reference you when they are trying to think of rich people:

The only way to profit in a free market over the long run is via production and mutually beneficial trade. Henry Ford grew rich by building us cars. Walt Disney ( DIS – news – people ) grew rich by bringing us delight. ...

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September 14th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Not my best moment

True story: I was cleaning up the code on a website, a 10 year old website with a lot of bad code, and I’ve gotten used to seeing some badly written stuff. I’ve been working on this particular project for about 3 months. Anyway, I came across some stupidly written code, and I was aggravated to have to deal with it. I decided to run “svn blame” to find out who was responsible for this bit of awfulness. Turns ...

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September 14th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Request Tracker

I’m working on a project where we have been using RT. For a big organization where a lot of departments need to get bug reports to the tech team, this is a good system.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Linux cheat sheet

A great Linux cheat sheet. If it only devoted some space to emacs, instead of vim.

Source

September 14th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The insanity that runs the world

Stories about Wall Street are always hilarious until you consider the number of lives wrecked by the current recession.

Wall Street, like Scientology, has an all-inclusive and claustrophobic value system all its own. Particularly at Goldman Sachs, which prided itself as a breed apart from other firms, this provincialism went even further. Former employees who had left Goldman were rarely mentioned. The unanimous phrase for it was ‘no longer with the firm,’ said in the same tone used to describe ...

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September 14th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Is Marge Simpson white?

Interesting:

If I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.

The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed.

Americans apply this thinking ...

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September 13th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Startups are different, and the job roles are different too

Steve Blank continues to make the case that jobs in a startup are very different than jobs at an established company:

Companies Have Titles to Execute a Known Business Model

I offered that in an existing company job titles reflect the way tasks are organized to execute a known business model. For example, the role of “Sales” in an existing company means that:

there’s a sales team executing

a repeatable and scalable business model

selling a known product to

a well-understood group of customers

using a standard ...

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September 13th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

The problem with declarative schemas for ORMs

The schema-generative ORM paradigm is fundamentally flawed:

Modeling is one of the fundamental challenges of software development. Capable developers prefer highly expressive or unconstrained type systems to aid with modeling. Generally, runtime type systems are more expressive than those found in databases. Declarative relational mappers, however, constrain the programming language type system to its less expressive counterpart. When building domain objects, the developer must think in terms of the database’s type system, not the programming language’s.

While using a declarative object relational ...

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September 13th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

How can one ever know what the right tool is, when there are so many?

Use the right tool for the job? What about situations, as in software, where there are far more tools than one can ever evaluate. Brandon Bloom gives up on Django:

Personally, I’ve developed a moderate fear of the word “framework”, as well as altered the way I think about software abstractions. I think the most important lesson, however, is one I already knew: choose the right tool for the job. Unfortunately, we had no idea what the right tool was when ...

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September 13th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Accidental Rails Love

Rails gains 2 more converts:

“Rails is full of evil black magic that I do not understand, but it seems to read my mind, so I don’t really care.”

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Lisp for Java programmers

This is a great introduction to Lisp.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

One word graphics

A sparkline is a small graphic, the size of a word. Tufte is, of course, brilliant, and, as always, his examples range across many subjects.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

We are looking for beta-testers who want to start a site like WP Questions

More details over on Codewi.se.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Progressive algorithms

Progressive algorithms.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

What men pay for

Why do men hire prostitutes?

Often, they pay them to talk. I’ve been studying high-end sex workers (by which I mean those who earn more than $250 per “session”) in New York, Chicago and Paris for more than a decade, and one of my most startling findings is that many men pay women to not have sex. Well, they pay for sex, but end up chatting or having dinner and never get around to physical contact. Approximately 40 percent of high-end ...

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September 12th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

What created the current culture of Berlin?

The clash of East and West Germany, circa 1999. When I was in Berlin I wondered about the general acceptance of anarchy in a country known for its regimentation. I can imagine the current moment is a melding of the clash of East and West.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic

Of course, this is a deeply irrational reaction. We are much less interested in helping a victim – we only want to help the victim.

Source

September 12th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Why is alcohol good for you?

I’ve seen several articles now that stress the fact that alcohol helps you socialize. Personally, alcohol puts me to sleep. When I want to socialize, I drink a lot of coffee and tried to get wired. I’m funnier when I’m amped. Having said all that, my own guess is that alcohol helps longevity because when it breaks down the OH group get broken away from the rest of the molecule. Possibly the benefits comes from the oxygen. Possibly the effect ...

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September 12th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Rejection is good

If you’re aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough. The post is about business, but it is probably widely applicable.

Source

September 11th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Why is Ruby fun?

I like this:

# Everything is an object

5.times {|x| puts x}

# Even nil is an object

puts nil.nil?

# Yes, nil is an object

nil.methods.each {|x| puts x}

Source

September 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Cows excrete peaches

Two economists have an argument. Rarely does a well known writer get so much wrong in public, and then try to cover it up with more mis-statemtents. I like this spoof:

Brad, if you read the whole post you can’t possibly have thought her point was that cows excrete peaches. WHY do you PERSIST in such ridiculous misreadings? Why?

Source

September 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Not answering questions

Interesting:

I was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.

The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released – because U.S. citizens who have produced proof of citizenship and a written customs declaration are not obligated to answer questions.

Source

September 11th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Twisting people’s words

I find I have a great talent for twisting people’s words, when I have some need to do so. It’s why I fear the same ability in others:

Cardinal Richelieu is alleged to have said, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” That’s also how the false statement charge works. Any cop or prosecutor can concoct a “lie” from your statements.

Source

September 10th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The productivity boom

This sounds about right:

Rapid output growth without equally rapid capital-stock or employment growth must have reflected rapid productivity growth. This is the paradox of the 1930’s. Despite being a period of chronic high unemployment, corporate bankruptcies, and continuing financial difficulties, the 1930’s recorded the fastest productivity growth of any decade in US history.

How could this be? As the economic historian Alexander Field has shown, many firms took the “down time” created by weak demand for their products to reorganize their ...

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September 10th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Government secrets and torture

Worrisome.

Source

September 10th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

How many times do clients need to ask for a feature before you give it to them?

Many, many people asked for the ability re-organize to-do lists between projects on Basecamp. An example:

People make mistakes and there’s nothing that drains the enthusiasm of someone on my team than having them spend an hour creating all sorts of to-do lists and then realizing that they were in the wrong project. Yes, it’s their error, but they end up getting really mad at Basecamp because there’s no easy way to correct this mistake.

37 Signals finally implemented this. Sam ...

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September 10th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The finances of BabyCastle

Somehow, this seems strangely appropriate.

Source

September 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Why are there so few billion dollar startups Europe?

Interesting, but I sort of doubt it:

Forget the risk-taking entrepreneurs — you’ll find crazy people (a category of which I proudly count myself) everywhere –, if you want an economy of innovation, you need risk-taking customers. You need at least enough, a small critical mass, of people who will try things, even if they’re not perfect, either because they’re new, or simply just for the hell of it. The most common question I get at a cocktail party in France ...

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September 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The 4 rules of a sick relationship

How to keep someone with you forever, in a sick relationship:

Rule 1: Keep them too busy to think.

Rule 2: Keep them tired.

Rule 3: Keep them emotionally involved.

Rule 4: Reward intermittently.

This works for both employees and lovers.

Source

September 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

The restrained use of color

This weblog you are reading has a restrained color palette so clearly I appreciate these kinds of designs. Here is another, with a clever use of color as emphasis.

Source

September 9th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Closures won’t be in Java 7, does anybody care?

I’m guessing that everyone who loves closures long ago moved onto to Ruby or Groovy or any other language that has closures. Does anyone really care if closures every make it into Java itself?

Source

September 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Gender misrepresentation in advertising agencies

It is puzzling that the ad agencies don’t promote more women, given how many consumers are women.

I saw a stat recently that had me pondering deeply: “85% of brand purchases are made by women, yet only 3% of advertising agency creative directors are women.” I believe they’re talking the major ad agencies here, the Madison Avenue variety, but still.

This all seems more off-balance than a one-legged unicyclist. And while I’m not sure it’s completely accurate (85% of brand purchases…really?) ...

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September 9th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Darren Hoyt is focusing more on his other projects

Darren Hoyt just posted an announcement about our projects:

Working life and personal life have changed a lot in a year. For a number of reasons, I can’t commit any time to the CodeWise sites that we’ve grown, unfortunately. I am full-time at arc90 working on a couple projects I care a lot about, plus holding down other real world responsibilities that I can’t sacrifice to make WPQuestions and the other sites work.

So Lawrence will continue growing those sites over the ...

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September 8th, 2010

In Philosophy

No Comments

Truth is a Wikipedia talk page

Or rather, there is no truth, only argument:

This is historiography. This is what culture actually looks like: a process of argument, of dissenting and accreting opinion, of gradual and not always correct codification.

And for the first time in history, we’re building a system that, perhaps only for a brief time but certainly for the moment, is capable of recording every single one of those infinitely valuable pieces of information. Everything should have a history button. We need to talk ...

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September 8th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Is Craigslists so perfect that it must be destroyed?

I’m confused about the campaign against Craigslist. I have a cynical side that is tempted to agree with this:

Let’s call the campaign against Craigslist what it was: A pathetic political stunt by headline-hungry politicians. Their time would be better spent going after criminals, the pimps, child pornographers and human traffickers that represent true evil in the world. Going after an easy target like Craigslist isn’t the way to do it.

But really, this doesn’t begin to answer the real question ...

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September 8th, 2010

In Business

No Comments

Small in-house tech teams often face uphill battles in big corporations

I’ve just been recently working a 6 month contract in a large firm. I do think a lot of these problems are real:

Departmental feuds

Too often, a website becomes a battleground for pre-existing departmental conflicts. Political power plays can manifest themselves in fights over home page real estate or conflicts over website ownership. After all, is the website an IT function or a marketing tool?

Uninformed decision-makers

Rarely does an internal Web team have the authority to make final decisions on a ...

Read More Source

September 8th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

A really good prediction algorithm

Okay, I am impressed. I went to Amazon.com and looked around for some books on Lisp. I was looking for “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs“. I didn’t remember the exact name, only that it had the word “Structure” in the title. I decided to search for it directly. I typed the letters “str” and Amazon auto-completed for me:

structure and interpretation of computer programs

That is a damn good prediction algorithm.

Source

September 8th, 2010

In Technology

No Comments

Exception handling in the Zend framework

Matthew Weier O’Phinney on handling exceptions in the Zend framework:

Zend Framework exceptions use the following pattern:

A top-level Zend_Exception class is defined, extending Exception, and providing forward compatibility with PHP 5.3 exception support (namely, the “additional exception” argument).

Each component defines a component-level exception extending Zend_Exception, named after the component: e.g., Zend_Application_Exception.

Subcomponents may optionally define additional exceptions, extending from their component exception class.

Only one exception per level in the hierarchy is supported.

This approach, while pragmatic, introduces some inflexibility:

No component may be distributed ...

Read More Source



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From DangerNorm on Why does he want to throw his reputation away?

"Your description of most people's response is correct, but I consider it to be a problem, rather than the corr..."

August 5, 2019 3:28 pm

From lawrence on Why does he want to throw his reputation away?

"DangerNorm, thank you for writing. I think you are missing the moral element here. You should understand the d..."