Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CRITICAL INFORMATION

I just realized that Cat Stevens' Father and Son and The Flaming Lips' Fight Test have basically the same melody. That is all, carry on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

I am a bad person

Listen, I know this is sad and tragic, but I lol'ed at this headline

Consider

I think there was a European film director, competent, but not destined for great fame, and then a transporter malfunction split him in to good and evil clones. The good clone became Micheal Gondry and the evil clone became Lars Von Trier.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yeah, cut it out

Well, I guess I'm an old programmer now

It's funny to me when the fresh-faced young pups 'bouts these parts find out that they have to do something in Java. They stamp their feet, ball up their fists, puff out their cheeks and start whining "but Java's so old and boring and doesn't have all the fancy stuff they're always talking about on Reddit, and didn't they just find a dinosaur fossil in Alberta that was wearing a Java baseball cap and clutching a fossilized copy of Teach Yourself Java In 24 Hours?"

This is hilarious to me, because In My Day, back in university, Java was
pants-pissingly hot. University departments were talking about switching all the first year classes to Java. Cool companies were "in to" Java, Sun was holding Java events on campus, wearing Java-logo giveaway swag was common, all the freshly-hatched pleiosaurs were reading The Java 1.1 Developers Guide in the food court. The feeling was that you didn't so much have to sweat out programs in Java as draw some class diagrams, then wave them at the monitor, and programs would come out.

What you have to realize is that, compared to the alternatives at the time, this wasn't that far off the mark. If you were writing real computer programs in the early and mid 90's, you were doing it in C or C++ or something with clockwork gears and a steam boiler you had to heat up before you could open the editor. Writing in C is like telling someone how to bake a cake over the phone, only the person can't remember anything by themselves, and they don't know what any of the ingredients are or where they're kept, and if you tell the person one little thing wrong, HE WILL DIE. C++ is exactly the same, except you can make bread too. Compared to that, Java seemed like a verdant Eden, a land of milk and honey and built in garbage-collection.

These day's Java's the ghetto. Java's for banks. C and C++ are for historians and people working in the basements of banks.

It looks like the same thing's happening with Subversion now. I remember In My Day, fighting tooth and nail to replace the source control system at work with Subversion, and how when we did, suddenly every day was a little sunnier. In my universe, Subversion is still a brightly shining star that shoots beams of candy and cupcakes and good development practice in every direction. Apparently this is not the case for everyone, apparently Subversion sucks with a lower-case x, and now all the cool kids are using git. Subversion's what your dumb manager forces you to use at boring old work, but at home you can keep all the source code for your racecars and speedboats and Ruby On Rails apps in git.

I guess what I'm saying is, maybe you think you're cool and with it, but THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU TOO.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Also, IKEA

Michel Gondry
Difficult Breakups
Arrested Development
Expensive Sandwiches
Japan
Arts Degrees
Public Radio
Apple Products

What do these things have in common? They're all Stuff White People Like.

Monday, February 18, 2008

So I'm reading the application form for the RCMP (why? that's not important). There's like 162 questions on this thing. I like to think that they started out with a very short form, but then every time they had a problem with an officer, they added another question.

70. Have you ever started an illegal fire?

72. Have you ever paid or asked anyone to set a fire for you?

76. Have you ever illegally hunted at night?

79. Have you ever hacked or attempted to hack into any computer system, business or private without permission?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good Enough For You

The company I work for, we do something on the Internet, I think we provide some kind of service, but I'm not really sure what, I can never follow all that technical stuff, so let's just say we rent out uniforms. Our uniforms, honestly speaking, they're not that great. I mean, they get the job done, no one's going around naked, or getting a pair of coveralls with three arms and no neck hole, but they're a few season's out of date, fashion wise, they're a little tattered, and they have some annoying quirks, like the zippers don't always work like you'd think, and so on. Frankly, you can get uniforms that are a lot nicer from other companies. Yet, people keep giving us money, the company's not doing too badly, and my paycheque hasn't bounced yet. How come? Well, I think it probably has something do with the sandwiches at my lunchtime meeting yesterday.

Now no offense to the good people at the catering company, but these sandwiches tasted like failure and sadness. But that's the service they provide, something that meets the minimum acceptable standards for "food", delivered on time, cheap and in volume. The question isn't why do they sell terrible sandwiches, the question is why does anyone buy them.

It's what happens whenever someone is spending their money on a group of people that they're not really responsible to. You're presented with option A (for Awesome) and option B (for Boo) and you think to yourself, "well, B's good enough for you".

It's the same for our webmail, erm, I mean, uniforms. We don't wear the uniforms, we all have our own clothes. the people that buy our uniform service, our customers they sure as hell don't wear the uniforms, it's their customers, that get the uniforms as part of the package they buy from our customers and they have to put up or shut up.

That's a lot of levels of buck-passing, between the people that make the product and the people that actually have to use it. It's pretty easy to disengage from your customer's customers because you're so insulated from them. It's easy to imagine them as the great unwashed herds, and put out something that's good enough, for them. But the problem is, making software that tastes like failure and sadness isn't really satisfying, and as much as I'd like to improve the product, if the corporate will isn't there, if the focus is not "how can we provide a really quality experience" but rather "how can we make software that minimally acceptable, so that our customers think it's good enough for their customers, and lock them in" then it's just not going to get better. Maybe it's not supposed to, maybe it's going to be a race to the bottom. But it seems like there are people out there doing good work and making a living, maybe the secret is to be one of your own customers, or to give them all baseball bats and let them stand behind you while you program.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Today's notable IM conversation with a co-worker

She: I think that if porrn producers can't make puns out of popular movie names, that they should just pack it in and call it a day

Me: True
Me: The Sorrow And The Titty

She: what is that based on?

Me: The Sorrow And The Pitty
Me: the joke is that it's a movie about Nazis and death camps and not something really ripe for a porn remake

She: unless you like that nazi fetish porn
She: which I SO HOPE doesn't really exist

Me: Um
Me: I have some bad news for you

She: NOOOO!!!
She: lalalalalalla

Me: the news is called Ilsa, She Wolf Of the SS

She: i can't hear you@@@
She: oh yeah
She: I've seen that
She: never mind then