Ruby on Rails
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April 18, 18:38 | Comments (11)

It Just Doesn't Matter to Shiny Happy People

Kathy Sierra has yet another fantastic exploration into findings on the brain: Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain. The basic theory is that being around unhappy people makes you unhappy, so maybe you shouldn't spend too much time around the unhappy, at least not without a conscious decision to do so.

Couldn't agree more! Your brain is a precious piece of work. Allowing it to degrade structurally and chemically by over-exposing it to bad influences is obviously not a good idea. There are communities, people, places, and topics that seem to have inordinate amounts of unhappiness vectors associated with them. Put a mental biohazard sign on those and be sure not to enter without a protection suit. And even stay away if you can. File it under self-preservation.

One of the key indicators that something is wrong with a given environment is its sense of proportions. When an inordinate amount of intensity is allocated to addressing seemingly minor priority, it's a red flag for contamination. You may still be interested in visiting the infected environment, but you should do so consciously with your guards up and be ready to engage in some decompression activity afterwards.

A technique I've personally used to great effect and seen others do the same is It Just Doesn't Matter. It's a pretty universal tool that can be used to deal with most any ambiguous situation. Given incident A, do I choose to respond with X or Y? The incident has already occurred, no way to take that back, so all your response needs to consider is "am I making it better or worse?".

Applying a healthy dose It Just Doesn't Matter gives you distance to the incident and perspective for the time after your reaction. Both important ingredients to a recipe of proportional response.

In a sense, it's like the notion of sunk cost. When deciding what to do today, don't consider what resources you spent yesterday. Those are already gone. The only thing that matters is whether of today's options that'll make the most value going forward.

In other words, it's hard work to be a happy shiny person. There are techniques out there to help you, but it requires intent and action. I, for one, applaud Scoble's decision to turn down on the knob of negativity that used to be his wasteland of a comments section.

Preserving a healthy chemical balance in your brain is indefinitely more important than allowing some random slob to sling his malice on your domain. Whether or not said malice has strains of truth intertwined or not.

April 14, 18:24 | Comments (34)

Taking the enterprisey to task

Speaking of death stars and their sympathizers, I've been enjoying Chris Petrilli's meticulous deconstruction of the arguments. He takes Robert McIlree to task and dishes out plenty of worthwhile observations in Your Pedestal is Showing.

Here's one bit shooting down McIlree's claim that big budgets is a sign of success:

Huge budgets are usually indicative of run-away architecture and absurd turf-wars and protectionism, not actual success. Most IT budgets I’ve been around could be shaved 30-70% by the judicious use of the word “no,” and the refusal to accept stock answers from astronauts and certification-wielding automatons.

Also read Enterprisey Architecture where James McGovern is processed. And while you're in the mood, James Robertson echoes similar tones in Enterprisey-Ness Unbound:

Here's the thing: Most applications just aren't that complicated. The propeller heads would like you to think they are - too many analysts want you to think they are - and too many vendors want you to think they are.

The addiction to complexity is a disease and the enterprisey babble is its vector. Chris, James, and others are doing a great job helping to fight the contamination. Rock on, guys.

April 14, 8:01 | Comments (20)

Don't blame me, I'm just a contractor

April 07, 18:04 | Comments (79)

Are you sure you want to be mainstream?

Cedric wrote a very flattering article in which he exalted the virtues and benefits of Ruby on Rails. He talks about a love for the language and features that are dreams come true. But he also pauses his flatter to spread a prophesy: Ruby on Rails won't become mainstream.

A natural reaction from the Rails community might be "it will too!", but wait. Hold that thought. First, ask yourself the question: do you really want Rails to become mainstream? I'm not so sure I do. I believe that the mainstream is overrated.

To me, mainstream is mostly about reaching people who just don't care. There are certainly benefits to having such a broad reach that it can include people who don't care, but the downsides are at least as big. Especially in open source projects like Rails that we're primarily involved in to do something for ourselves. Solve our own problems, not be a vendor, and all that.

So no, I don't think the mainstream is that attractive. What I do think is attractive is having a sustainable ecosystem. I believe we have that already. There are enough people and businesses that depend on Rails today to ensure that it'll be surviving and thriving for many, many years to come. In other words, we have critical mass.

As a developer, look around you. Would you rather be part of the mainstream or a smaller community with critical mass? Going mainstream usually means slowing progress until it resembles a complete stop and dealing with a whole other level of secondary concerns.

So let's worry less about whether or not we're going mainstream. Instead, let's continue to work on fostering a sustainable community of people who care. Optimize for those who sympathize with our cultural leanings instead of trying to water it down by reaching for the lowest common denominator of enterprisy glitter and mainstream blandness.

Let the willing and the able self-select out of the mainstream and into the upstream.

April 03, 17:15 | Comments (30)

Getting Real: 12x revenues on fewer books sold

Jason just announced the 30-day update on the Getting Real book. While the absolutely numbers are interesting ($120,000 earned on 5750 or ~10,000 copies, depending how you count site licenses), I like the relative comparison even more.

Getting Real has already made 37signals 12 times more than what has come in from Defensive Design. But here's the kicker, we still haven't reached the sales of the DD book yet for GR! So less units sold, 12x more revenue.

In other words, we would have had to write 12 books through the traditional publishing model to earn this kind of money on the same number of sales. That's just an entirely different scale and game.

Sure, as Tim pointed out, Getting Real is not necessarily a typical book example. Apparently 5,000 copies count as a "best seller" (which means that the Defensive Design book was also a "best seller", despite bringing in 1/12th of the Getting Real book). So, as always, your milage may and probably will vary.

But if you think you have an idea with enough steam to carry through sales of just a thousand units or more, I urge you to consider self-publishing. And when you do, please share your numbers for comparison. Maybe Getting Real is just a one-off success story, but I highly doubt it.

April 01, 18:58 | Comments (24)

Emo Programming: Beyond agile and pragmatic

It's with great pleasure and a wide smile that I'm finally able to share my secret with you. Kathy Sierra and I have been working on the next generation of aspiration. Forget agile, forget pragmatic, no, the new way is: The Emo Programmer™ — a practitioner of Emotional Programming™.

This is not merely a label, nay, it's a new way of life for programmers seeking a higher state of satisfaction and fulfillment in their symbioses with code. It's the pursuit of happiness put at the forefront and given turbo. And you too can be a part of it by getting the manifesto:

This is a unique chance to escape such silly constraints as "the best tool for the job" or simply be about "getting things done". As an Emo Programmer™, you're free to use arguments such as:

  • ...because I feel like it
  • ...because it makes me special
  • ...because I get to feel warm and fuzzy inside

Yes, Emo is good and Emo works. And I'm very happy to have had the chance to have been able to work on this innovative, revolutionary, new field with the mother of passion to the music of emo and apply it all to the search of well-being in conditionals, loops, and even encapsulation!

You too can be happy, you too can be Emo™.

The Emo Programmer will be available for pre-sale shortly and so will our Emo manifesto. Stay ever so very tuned.