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 www.myfreakinfirst-andlast-name.com
|FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!!! Back-up your data and always wear white.|
|Wednesday, December 04, 2013|
Don't Start a Company, Kid � Big Nerd Ranch Blog:
When you work for a company, like our client Procter & Gamble, they will present you with a problem. “Here,” they will say, “is our problem and a big bucket of money. Please create a solution.” There is no need for guessing.
Ha. Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
Mr. Hillegass either worked at some of the greatest companies on earth or his corporate experience is exceptionally limited.
As a contractor, can you expect the sort of situation he describes? Yes, but then he's admitted that he is a contractor in the situation he describes. Let's not confuse "contracting" with "working at a company". When companies look for a contractor, they temporarily have too much work to finish themselves, so they chunk it out (aka, "define a problem" or set of problems) and spit some out for bid.
If you want to say that "our problem" at a company is "to be comfortably-to-insanely profitable", fine. In those terms, there's no guessing. Your goal at a corporate job is to bring in at least twice the cash that you cost. If the problem is, "identify how best to take imperfect specs and customer research and turn it into software customers will gladly pay to use, all within the constraints you're given by those above filtered through the skills you can coax out of yourself and your team," well, it's nothing but guesswork.
The actionable difference is really limited to fact that the delivery of the check you get twice a month is a bit more reliable at a company, mainly because the pot and/or stream of money your company's pulling in is larger and more resistant to feast or famine than your own. That's right, the company generally has, in Hillegass' system, almost by definition, "Enough".
posted by ruffin at 12/04/2013 12:57:00 PM
|Sunday, December 01, 2013|
Used to be that the NFL was sponsored by trucks, beer, and tools. Now it's brought to you by The Hobbit.
Over-extrapolating just a tiny bit, this change reflects the US economy pretty well. The middle class folks that used to watch the NFL are now replaced by a technology-powered workforce that's, not surprisingly, a bit geekier than it used to be.
Our economy is geeking our money.
posted by ruffin at 12/01/2013 06:51:00 PM
|Monday, November 25, 2013|
This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense | Linda Tirado:
I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
Reminds me of Ice-T's "Escape from the Killing Fields". You don't have to think she's talking great sense, but I think it's only fair to assume she's talking from experience. Even if it's ostensibly smarter to be careful with your cash, how many times does it have to seem like saving doesn't work out before you start believing it's not worth the trouble? Her explanation for tobacco as the best way to self-medicate also seems, if not particularly smart, at least arguable.
Being poor fosters (not creates; fosters) specific mindsets that, like hunger, you have to experience to understand.
posted by ruffin at 11/25/2013 08:35:00 PM
|Saturday, November 23, 2013|
I noticed on the fourth generation iPod touch that the volume buttons are very difficult to operate with a single hand. I had an earlier touch that wasn't as noticeably difficult to use. I guess Apple favors thin over ease of use for 14% of the population.
Appropriately enough, I was told this is a first-world problem, and let it go [for a while].
Well, the first-world problems continue. When I shoot pictures and video on the iPhone 5S (and everything before), it doesn't seem to have a good concept of when it's upside-down. Better put, it doesn't know which side is being held down when I do a landscape. I mean, there's no a priori right-side up when you lean something on its side.
When I hold the iPhone in landscape, I position it to unlock the screen with a left-handed flick, and the camera snap/record button is on the left. If I email someone a picture, bam, it's upside-down. Folks don't enjoy watching upside-down movies.
That's just sad. I'm always surprised how often Apple fails at easy, obvious, commonly used things but still gets away with the reputation that they sweat the details. I mean, they do a great job when they want to get a concept just right, but if they don't think something's worth checking out -- or just miss it entirely; you know, like left-handed use -- you're toast.
posted by ruffin at 11/23/2013 11:25:00 AM
|Friday, November 22, 2013|
Okay, admittedly I really hope to bag a Scroogled coffee mug if they come back in stock, but the irony of learning this the same day I order my Scroogled shirt is thick.
Windows 8.1's 'Hero' ads -- brought to you by stealthy snooping | Microsoft windows - InfoWorld:
Here's the part Microsoft doesn't tell you -- the part the tech press neglects to mention: Bing Smart Search works by snooping on the searches you perform on your Windows 8.1 computer (there's no Smart Search in Windows 8). Windows watches as you run local searches. Unless you specifically, explicitly search for Settings or Files, Smart Search bundles up all of your search terms and sends them to Bing, along with whatever tracking information Windows has at hand. (Perhaps your Windows account?) [emphasis mine -mfn]
Whoa! Local as in, "kittens.gif" searches? Certainly I've got that wrong. Right?
posted by ruffin at 11/22/2013 02:15:00 AM
|Thursday, November 21, 2013|
At first I thought perhaps I had a playlist that included a suspicious file. I have a good deal of taper band shows in WAV format that I could understand Apple not wanting to promote, or having to include as part of the Match contract that they wouldn't support unknown .WAV or larger files.
But that's not it at all. It's some Apple coders and/or their manager.
Really, Apple? Playlists are just pointers. All you have to do for mine is take files from my "picks" playlist (my favorite songs) and subtract those in my "not safe aloud" list (words that curse or deal with, well, themes I don't want blasting around kids or from my car window).
Perhaps there's some edge case -- there's always some edge case -- with multiple layers of smart playlists that's difficult to support, but to say that nested playlists aren't supported, full stop, well, as someone who just kludgily added INNER JOINS to a home-rolled dbms and knows it's not that big a deal, this iCloud limitation is sorry programming, Apple. Support the 80% of us whose embedded lists aren't complicated, and only have the 20% that are edge case users to feel this pain: "This smart playlists contains complex rules that are not currently supported in the cloud."
Sheesh. 80/20 Apple, 80/20.
Update: I'm having more problems, now a playlist that's a subset of a playlist that's in iCloud, but for which I'm getting...
And it looks like I'm not alone experiencing seemingly avoidable errors like this.
posted by ruffin at 11/21/2013 11:09:00 AM
|Wednesday, November 20, 2013|
Interesting conversation from MacStories today. A feller says he's leaving "Things" because it's not changing enough, not because it's incompetent. There's an important section in Lopp's post about leaving "Things" that the conversation seems to gloss over: Lopp says he's found a better alternative.
Regardless, the topic of the conversation itself is exceptionally useful.
Should customers appreciate polished software?
Here's part of a reply from Daniel Jalkut to Lopp called Stagnation Or Stability? from Bitsplitting.org:
He applauds the app for allowing him to do his work “frictionlessly.” How does a software developer achieve this level of performance? By first building a quality product and then working deliberately over months and years to address the minor issues that remain. Woodworking makes a reasonable analogy: after a chair has been carved and assembled the job is functionally complete. It’s a chair, you can sit in it. It’s done. But customers will gripe with good cause about its crudeness unless the hard work of detailing, sanding, and lacquering are carried out. Only then will it be considered finely crafted.
So the problem here seems pretty clear -- reusing Jalkut's metaphor perhaps a bit too much, let's say that the "masses" are often happy to have a rough-hewn chair. More importantly, they'd rather have a rough-hewn chair NOW WITH ROUGH-HEWN TABLE!!! than a wonderfully crafted chair.
Many people make do with a Chevy even after they can afford the Benz. Not everyone buys the latest iPhone. Etc etc.
So let's flip the question:
Should programmers appreciate that customers don't always want (aka, "pay for") polish?
Why do developers -- and not just developers, but, in my experience, the better developers -- seem to strive for perfection without a clear business case? Look, let's not get confused. I want polished code, business be damned. But I can also understand the argument that we can't enter the table-using vertical without, well, a table. And if that means our chair is a big ball of mud, all I can really do is suggest that we're going to have a hard time catching up when someone creates polished chairs and tables down the line.
But until that happens and our products are outflanked, no matter how much Little Red Hen I try to be, I'm just Chicken Little to upper management. The worst part? I don't know that they're "wrong" to prefer the rough-hewn chair, just like Lopp does here.
More to the point, how do you know when your chair has enough polish that it's time to move on?
posted by ruffin at 11/20/2013 10:20:00 AM
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