Ruby on Rails
Ta-da List


April 28, 21:47 | Comments (2)

American iTunes life

Apple debuts the much-hyped music service along with iTunes 4, but beware the letdown awaiting in the small print: The iTunes Music Store is only available in the U.S. So my VISA isn't good with Apple unless it's issued by Bank of America or Citigroup? What a jib.

To add insult to injure, I can browse the Music Store and even listen to samples, but when I want to part with the dough, it's a no go. What's worse, there's not a glimmer of hope. No "international roll-out expected soon". The Danish Apple site doesn't even mention the Music Store.

Could we at least have an explanation? Are the labels twisting your arm, Steve? Would the load be too much? Do you need to deal with taxes? Tell us some time. Anything. Hell, sugarcoat or lie if you have to. The silent treatment just doesn't fly.

UPDATE: The Register notes that a Windows version of the Music Store is promised for later this year, but no international roll-out promise was made. sigh

April 25, 23:08 | Comments (11)

Reject ignorance

Gerald M. Weinberg on managers that forbids the use of source control:

"But really good developers have the habit of ignoring directives from ignorant managers."

This is true for really good students as well. My philosophy teacher delivered the thought as "...that's not a valid question".

Students, like developers, should reject ignorant questions and requirements with a conviction. If the grading teacher has any sense, he'll allow reasonable objections. If he has more sense, he'll salute them.

April 24, 22:34 | Comments (1)

Freedom is frightening

"Some people just can't handle the freedom", my philosophy teacher would say, when he talked about new consultants joining his firm from public administration. "There's no boss telling them what to do or to shift responsibility to — it's frightening".

After the last briefing on our five-weeks exam project, I can sense many of my co-students feels the same fright for freedom. Our problem definitions are much looser than usual. There's an actual company involved presenting actual work products. Much unlike the constrained world of known sales functions and marginal cost and revenue meeting at a perfect 100.

So naturally, frustrations came crying in form of questions. "So what are we supposed to do?! Just guess everything?!?", or better yet, "But what does this box contain? Tell me! I need to know what this box contains" (speaking of a project management plan from the company).

I share equal parts pity, annoyance, and apathy with their frustrations. No wait. I share a brief moment of pity followed by enough annoyance to instill apathy. I wish they could ask themselves: Will venting by whining make the definitions ring any clearer? Don't bother pondering, the answer is no.

April 19, 17:16 | Comments (11)

Distinctions of tool and technique

For a long time I didn't spend much time diagramming my technical thoughts. Digital diagrams with Visio bore the pain and inconvenience of a terrible interface, analog diagrams with paper couldn't be easily shared or iteratively developed. So because of the faults inherent in the tools available, I mentally placed diagramming in the category of ineffective techniques with little practical use.

The technique of diagramming fell ill with me due to the tools implementing it. But as time went on, the distinction withered. I simply forgot that it was because of the tools, not the technique, I didn't do much diagramming. And an irrational disdain for diagramming was born.

Irrational disdains have a tendency of acquiring a sense of self-preservation. They fight for, and often win, survival by escaping regular testing. Instead of subscribing to the progress in diagramming tools, I ignored it and stayed with the belief of ineffectiveness. Safely protected from updating my initial evaluation.

Then, more by accident than intent, I stumbled across OmniGraffle, and my irrational disdain was laid to rest. Diagramming is an incredibly powerful technique for visual and structured thinking. But one that have suffered from many ineffective tools in the past.

If you have, like I had, a critical perception of diagrams and their usefulness, get in front of a Mac and try OmniGraffle. It's just out in version 3.0 now. Lot's of great new features and a nicer interface.

Room for improvement: Try substituting diagramming with another technique you've thought of as ineffective up until now. Is it an irrational disdain? Find out!

April 17, 23:38 | Comments (0)

Borrowing from tomorrow

I've always been part in awe, part in disbelief of people with enough self-control to forgo opening a bank credit. I'm trying to imagine having the strength to avoid temptation, but not to handle the temptation itself — despite the times of benefit. It seems like a foreign concept to me.

How much do you trust yourself?

April 17, 18:58 | Comments (0)

Unhinging words

Have you ever had word change before your inner ear? I have and it's scary. It feels like meaning, representation, and pronunciation unhinges thus leaving an awkward gap. Repeated focus only accentuates the disconnect. As if three concepts used to be aligned, but are now off by just a nod.

I wonder if it's because a neural pathway is breaks and the neurons has to travel slightly different, slightly longer way, which offsets the timing that you've grown dependent on. Perhaps pronunciation arrives a hair before meaning and it used to be the other way around.

Feel like trying? Write down a single line. Keep rearranging the words or even substitute a few. Focus intensely. Can you feel it?

April 05, 1:22 | Comments (9)

The myth of limited demand in software

When veteran programmers decry the fall of another bastion of complexity, I believe it can in part be explained by the myth of limited demand. Classic examples includes how VBScript moved Windows GUI-programming out of the C++ domain and into "In 14 days..." land and how XML-RPC and, to a lesser extend, SOAP made distributed systems likewise accessible.

The veteran reasoning bemoans the unleash of shoddy applications, suffering from leaking abstractions, and the devaluation of the noble profession of programming. They assume sympathy for the poor clients who will unwittingly fall into the hands of these hacks.


April 04, 14:34 | Comments (10)

PC stuff going once, going twice...

Since the arrival of the iMac, I haven't had any use for the two PC's, my 22" CRT screen, or the OS X-incompatible PowerLook II scanner. So now it's all for sale. And cheap, too! But I don't want to bother with international shipments, so this is for Danes only.

Selling: 22" CRT Samsung 1200NF, Athlon 1.33GHz box, Komplet computer med skærm, UMax PowerLook II scanner, Amiga 1200, Panasonic DVD-120.

April 03, 21:10 | Comments (0)

Escalating learnings of a year

Despite much-reduced course work, this year has academically been every bit as rewarding as the previous. Mostly as a function of the philosophy class and my on-the-side readings of Gerald Weinberg. The fields of economy, computer science, and organizational theory have moved closer—revealed their fundamental similarities and cooperation.

And now it's almost over. No more classes. A five-weeks project and three exams is all that's left.

Hopefully the next, and final, year of the bachelor's degree will sustain the reward.