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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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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Is it wrong to say that you won't work on any projects that use source control other than git? Or at least say that you won't work on projects based in TFS? I mean, it's problems like these that tend to drive me absolutely batty...

StackOverflow question:
Why Why WHY doesn't TFS's get latest work consistently?

You would have thought that feature would have been tested thoroughly.

What I have to do is, get specific version, then check both overwrite writetable files + overwrite all files.

Is my local setup messed up or you do this also?
Normally, I'd bash a question that poorly and emotionally written too, but in this case, I feel the poster's pain.

And here's the answer (with a solution I'd already encountered, since this Get Latest bug isn't a rare one, apparently):

TFS redefined what "Get Latest" does. In TFS terms, Get Latest means get the latest version of the files, but ignore the ones that the server thinks is already in your workspace. Which to me and just about everyone else on the planet is wrong.

See this link:

The only way to get it to do what you want is to Get Specific Version, then check both of the "Overwrite ..." boxes.

Emphasis on the solution mine.

That's awful. I've lost hours on hours fixing things in both git and TFS, but it's what I'm losing that time doing that's so starkly different. In TFS, it's been stuff like forced baseless merges and incredibly complex things (he said SARCASTICALLY!!!) like "Get Latest". In git, it's pretty much always been when I've screwed something up, pushed, and need to retroactively fix it.

Say it with me (with obvious apologies to Frank)...

TFS is the mind-killer.  TFS is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face TFS. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the TFS has gone there will be nothing. Only git will remain.

posted by ruffin at 10/06/2015 12:47:00 PM
Friday, October 02, 2015

Quote is from "Wish List: Multiple credit cards in iTunes" on Six Colors

My gut tells me that this is Apple’s “simplicity” ethos at work here: you never have to think about which credit card you’re using, which streamlines the checkout process of buying apps. But for those of us who do need to bounce back and forth between multiple cards, it would certainly be a boon.

The shortcoming isn't simplicity, unless you mean it's the type of simplicity that keeps their server-side code simple. There are elegant ways to keep the ability to add a second card invisible until it's needed rather than "simply" saying, "Heck, no." In a mature app, your technical challenges should not be visible in your app's UI. This is not a simple UI. It's a limited system.

Reread my post on the inability to change Google account passwords via OAuth in OS X. I really think we're getting to the point of a lack of institutional imagination for day-to-day, second-tier applications. There are too many minimally viable products that languish at Apple for it to be the largest/richest company in the world. iTunes is not a small business. There's no reason for its designers, product managers, and coders to produce systems that look like they are.

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posted by ruffin at 10/02/2015 09:56:00 AM
Saturday, September 26, 2015

Edit: Turns out something smellier than I expected is going on with the NYT and ebooks. From the Stratechery piece:

To my regret, and in a rich bit of irony, I failed to research disconfirming evidence for the New York Times’ conclusion that ebook sales were indeed dropping.

Fortunately, the Author Earnings blog took no such shortcuts and came to some different conclusions. I strongly suggest reading the whole thing, but here are some pertinent excerpts...

And now, back to what I originally wrote...

Interesting but overly simple NYT article from @Gruber on "The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead". Read the article (I'm not going to summarize past the title), and let me try to paint a slightly different picture using the same content:

As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online.
Then in 2011, the industry's fears were realized when Borders declared bankruptcy.
E-book subscription services, modeled on companies like Netflix and Pandora, have struggled to convert book lovers into digital binge readers, and some have shut down. Sales of dedicated e-reading devices have plunged as consumers migrated to tablets and smartphones.

Let's recombine those statements with a few others...

The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago.

Wonder what happened when Borders closed? Hrm... Let's add Ben Thompson's slightly ecologically misapplied Internet jungle metaphor, where you've got the apex predators getting bigger (here, publishing houses), the niche competitors growing in their specialized niches, and nothing in between. That is, guess where underserved book buyers buy books?

Higher e-book prices may also be driving readers back to paper.

As publishers renegotiated new terms with Amazon in the past year and demanded the ability to set their own e-book prices, many have started charging more. With little difference in price between a $13 e-book and a paperback, some consumers may be opting for the print version.

Let's also remember...

  • Tablet sales are taking.
  • Apple's ebook suit was settled, and the only significant downward pressure on price is also gone.
  • The bookshelf building stage of ebook ownership is over, in large part because of raised ebook prices. Your whales have reached critical mass, and are buying only just over the speed at which they're reading.

Here's an alternative take to the latent "print is making a comeback" argument in the article (and @Gruber):

The ebook's initial position as a bargain print substitute pushed large merchants, unable to pivot and compete on convenience and price, off of their perches.

Years later, however, growth has stabilized for both print and pixels because...

  1. Tablet sales have dropped, making tablet ownership flatten
  2. eBook prices have increased as competitive pricing in ebooks has disminished
  3. eBook readers have filled their virtual bookshelves, and are less impulsive about buying
Makes more sense to me.

And a quick thought on @Gruber's hipster comment:

I read both, but for any book I truly care about, I prefer to get it in print.

Combine that with this statement from the NYT article:

And according to some surveys, young readers who are digital natives still prefer reading on paper.

I used to think that too, and want to keep thinking it, but I don't any more.

What our young, hipster readers are saying is that they prefer the experience one gets from reading a book successfully offline. Think of all the things that have to happen for you to read a printed book...

  1. You have to have it with you.
  2. You need good lighting.
  3. You have to have time to read it.
  4. It has to be good enough for you to finish.

Below, I'm going to argue that we no longer read paperbacks in the grocery line, or while waiting for a friend, or over lunch, like we used to. If we stipulate that, one thing becomes clear:

Reading a paper book is now about having time to dedicate to reading. Space, light, comfort. So of course we'd rather have a book in print, because we recall a more pleasurable experience. It's not the book that's great so much as what reading a printed book "requires".

I used to carry around a book everywhere in the 80s and 90s. It was, looking back, my smartphone, so to speak. It was the small, portable device that best allowed you to use up dead time by sneaking in a few moments of escapist pleasure. I used to read a book in the Dune series every day or two until I caught up with Frank, just before he died. Nothing wrong with that, within reason.

But now the alternative is too handy. I have my phone with my all the time. I no longer carry a paperback. It's too easy to have something to read on the phone.

My suspicion is that most read (if they are reading, and not Clash of Clanning, which is also fine, within reason!) more web stories, Instapapered or otherwise, RSS, and email on their phone to help fill up that "catch as catch can" time. Personally, I tend to be reading at least one paper book and one ebook all the time in large part to be ready for down time. I love to have the space to read a printed book. I love to mark portions that are interesting to pull back out later. But when I'm waiting on friends or find myself stuck in a line, it's hard to grab a book beside my chair at home. It's really easy to yank out an iPod or smartphone.

Most importantly, I have both bookshelves full with books so I don't run out of things to read if I have time to relax or have unexpected time to kill. And that's largely why my ebook purchasing is flat. I have my reservoir. I'm less likely to bite on today's deal.

I might prefer have time to sit in a chair on the porch with a drink when there's great light and weather to read, but just like my camera, the best book to read is always the book I have with me.

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posted by ruffin at 9/26/2015 10:30:00 AM
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Woohoo, my first StackOverflow tag badge, just short of four years in (pretty sad, actually)! I mostly just sit on JSLint, so I doubt I'll get many others, with one hopefully notable exception. ;^)

Luckily JSLint and Javascript (obviously) overlap quite a bit, and I've answered just enough plain jane javascript questions (seems there's a surprisingly "popular" Knockout one) to get to 100 in JS a little faster than JSLint (I'm at 89 right now), which is neat. I'm hoping to be the second to get a JSLint tag badge. [James Allardice]( is the only guy who has a JSLint badge at the moment, and though I kind of feel I'm often plowing over ground he already farmed to nothing years ago, it looks like I've got a chance to become the second, perhaps through inertia (a few of my JSLint questions keep getting votes, so even if I'm not first to answer the few new questions, I keep progressing. It's like a SO investment).

Luckily you have to answer more than 20 questions in a tag to get the badge, or lots of people would've beaten the heck out of me. So it's neat to be getting close.

I can't imagine spending so much time on the site that you get gold tag badges... I guess there are many, many tags more popular than JSLint that have tons more questions, and perhaps tons more low-hanging fruit, but you still have to do the work, you know? I'm glad folks do, but wow... that's a lot of work.

I hope more and more employers are catching on to how important and insightful a great SO user (so those much better than me!) can be. Not only are great SO users knowledgeable, they are wired to share that knowledge, and share it in a way that others appreciate and can understand. That's who you want to hire.


posted by ruffin at 9/22/2015 09:58:00 AM
Friday, September 18, 2015

The good:
  • I love the San Francisco font. Much easier to read than before on the tiny devices.
  • News isn't all bad.

The bad:
  • iOS decided to sign my alt-Apple ID out of Game Center and sign me in with the ID I use on the rest of my phone. That's not exactly cool.
  • My iPod touch 5th gen is showing its age. 
    • A fair number of crashes.
    • A little more "chrome slow-down" now that I'm on iOS 9, I think.
  • Safari content blockers apparently require 64-bit procs.
    • I know; that really belongs in the previous set of "my touch is old".
    • Yes, I know there are lots of jokes that come with that phrase.
  • This:

A few weeks after I got my Lumia 640, which is a super phone, other than the lack of apps, I gave up my iPhone 5S to "cash in" so that I could grab an iPhone 7 in a year. I'm resisting getting a 6S, but this poor touch isn't quite up to the job.

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posted by ruffin at 9/18/2015 01:44:00 PM
Monday, September 14, 2015

Yeah, so um the Password textbox in my Internet Accounts system prefs ain't there.

Note picture of the ["Matt Klein" account]( where the Password textbox does exist...

and mine where it don't [sic]. Thanks, Apple.

Is this because it's using OAuth now and nobody thought to check if you could update the password? Who's writing the use cases at Apple?

Man, I hate OS X at times like this. QA is really starting to show insanely rough edges at Apple. Or I'm becoming an absolute idiot in my old age, because I can't see anything I'm doing wrong.

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posted by ruffin at 9/14/2015 09:32:00 AM
Friday, September 04, 2015

Even the so called "good" software patents have a lot of the same elements as th... | Hacker News:

I have been involved with several patent suits (on both litigant side and defendant side) and as an engineer, I have to admit that there has never been a time when I haven't read the statement of the problem the patent says its going to solve, and not thought of the solution myself, way before the patent presents the same solution. In other words, every single litigated software patent I've been asked to review has been BLATANTLY obvious. And I'm no genius. I've talked to other engineers and they've all said the same thing. I just explain a problem domain, and they usually give a solution that comes under the claims of the litigated patent.

I wish this was the bar for a patent -- If it's not intuitively obviously ("BLATANTLY") new and patentable, it's not patentable at all.

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posted by ruffin at 9/04/2015 11:19:00 AM

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