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Put the knife down and take a green herb, dude.

One feller's views on the state of everyday computer science & its application (and now, OTHER STUFF) who isn't rich enough to shell out for

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* Using CommonDialog in VB 6 * Free zip utils
* that hardware vendor review site I forget about is here * Javascript 1.5 ref
* Read the bits about the zone * Find column in sql server db by name
* Giant ASCII Textifier in Stick Figures (in Ivrit) * Quick intro to Javascript
* Don't [over-]sweat "micro-optimization" * Parsing str's in VB6
* .ToString("yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.fff", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture); (src)
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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Revisiting the Iterative Incremental Mona Lisa | It's a Delivery Thing:

"It is not an iteration if you only do it once."

If your Scrum process isn't iterative, it's really just a small waterfall.

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posted by ruffin at 9/09/2014 10:17:00 AM

Daring Fireball: ABC News Teases Report of Inside Access to ‘Historic’

Apple "Announcement"
That sure as [heck] can’t be a reference to bigger iPhones, and it doesn’t sound like a watch that counts your steps and shows you notifications as they come in.

Either Apple's marketing department has overreached, which I'm afraid of, or we finally see the Apple television whose rumors died out last year, give or take.

I am worried, with the IBM partnership, bigger screen iPhones, and recent, somewhat unfocused commercials that Cook's Apple is more about grabbing the hats of cash than it was before. I was disappointed to see Gruber write this yesterday:

The market shows that one size does not fit all. I don’t know that they should have done it sooner, but it certainly feels like the time for multiple iPhone sizes has come.

Really? It feels right? Ask yourself why that is. Ask yourself why you didn't think it was time before *cough*realitydistortionfield*cough*. The question isn't whether it's a good business move. It is. There's cash on Apple's table, and Cook's picking it up. The question is why. Is this one-handed mode good enough to overcome the inherently inelegant UI of a larger phone? If it is, great. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

But historic? There'd better be something better than a watch.

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posted by ruffin at 9/09/2014 09:52:00 AM
Friday, September 05, 2014

Random thought: I wonder if the iWatch could have real, traditional, creatively integrated, low-energy hands.

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posted by ruffin at 9/05/2014 09:21:00 PM
Thursday, September 04, 2014

Introducing MarkdownSharp � Blog – Stack Exchange:

Jeff Atwood author Dec 27 2009

> Why don’t you just use an Ajax call for the preview, Jeff?

We tried that on in the CV entry fields which support Markdown, and people hated it. I can’t blame them. The 200 ms latency (and that’s the best case) to get the preview to update is kind of a bummer.

But I agree in principle that keeping two sets of code in sync, in two different languages, on two totally different platforms, is a huuuuge PITA.

Look, in a perfect world, yes, you should always have everything related to data qa for a page on your server. In this case, that something isn't just validation, which obviously must always be on the server (but soooo often isn't), but also Markdown formatting. You're going to have this stuff on the server, so why not kill two birds and tie that logic into the client?

But that 200ms really is important enough to ensure that, after you know your server-side logic is ready to go, you have that PITA version ready for your client as well. I hate two languages on two platforms, which is part of why I think Node.js is fairly popular, but the bottom line is that users do expect quality, quick interactions which can only be done with [only marginally] thicker clients.

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posted by ruffin at 9/04/2014 12:23:00 PM
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

So structured programming is great—that is, until you have to exit from a set of deeply nested while loops. That’s when pure structured programming leads to pathologically convoluted logic because you have to litter your program with Boolean variables and conditionals trying to achieve the flow of control you need. This is when being a little “impure” and allowing the use of unstructured flow-control elements (including the infamous goto statement) is useful.

That's from Windows PowerShell in Action, 2nd edition, page 213. It's written by the guy who made PowerShell.

So many kneejerk style rules in the world, and the goto proscription is one of the ones I don't quite get. Don't be "pathologically convoluted" and "litter". Use goto when it's appropriate, and this is the use-case where you're asking for goto by name.

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posted by ruffin at 9/02/2014 01:26:00 PM
Monday, August 25, 2014

There Is No Shame In (Strategic) Quitting | TODD HENRY:

The key isn’t whether or not you quit an effort, it’s why. Are you quitting because you’re tired and just don’t want to make the effort, or are you quitting because you have learned something that has re-framed the problem you’re trying to solve?

The first issue is one of motivation or clarity of action at the least, and possibly also one of character.

However, the second one is the honorable kind of quitting. It means that you’ve recognized that your efforts – no matter how focused and valiant – will [practically speaking -mfn] never result in success, and could probably be better spent elsewhere. In this situation, the reason people don’t quit is typically due to pride or insecurity, both of which will potentially lead to wasted years and energy.

posted by ruffin at 8/25/2014 10:17:00 PM
Sunday, August 24, 2014

Small teapot tempest over the short film, Humans need not apply:

Horses aren't unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they're unemployable. There's little work a horse can do that pays for its housing and hay.

Some folk interpret this to say that "non-skilled" people might be out of jobs in a few decades, thanks to the information economy or some other drivel.

It is, however, drivel.  Here's why: Our code will simply get worse.  You know those idiots that apply for developer jobs that can't even spell Java, but have the audacity to pretend that they're experts?  You know how you can't believe that they've actually held the jobs that are on their resumes?

Newsflash: These horrible coders have held those jobs, and, in the future, will continue to get them.  What's worse?  Their code, as horrible as it is, on some level, works.

Code will simply get worse.  Folks who were non-skilled are already getting shunted into college where they might not have as strongly twenty or thirty years ago, precisely because of these (and other, more nefarious) changes in our economy.

It's time to stop thinking they're not ready for college, and realize that what used to require the brightest minds -- thanks to the scarcity of jobs and price for companies to enter a once much more expensive market -- won't any longer.

As Ben Thompson says, we're not horses.  We can learn to adapt by learning new skills.  Unfortunately, some of us can't learn real well.  The difference in 40 years is that those folk won't be digging ditches (which, the PC-ness in me requires I say, is insanely hard work, having done it for our water pipe a few years back), they'll be doing today's equivalent of "data entry" work, and not doing it horribly well.  And that won't matter.

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posted by ruffin at 8/24/2014 06:54:00 PM
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Okay, Gruber's right. Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" is, just a few words in, already worth its weight in gold.  (See what I did there?)

Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.

This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed; prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

A sincere thanks, George.  Even realizing the slight irony, I get the feeling I'm going to turn this into a canned email response, because there's no way I'm going to say this any better by myself.

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posted by ruffin at 8/13/2014 10:20:00 AM

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