Loud Thinking: Broadcasting Brain
Tuesday, March 26, 2002 @ 00:05 |

Michael Moore proves approval rates wrong

I'm a huge fan of Michael Moore. The Awful Truth is my favorite documentary show ever. I'm going to buy the DVD's. With that out of the way, let's bring you up to what the crusader has been toiling with lately:

Today's #1 ranking for "Stupid White Men" on the New York Times bestseller list has, I honestly believe, very little to do with me and a WHOLE LOT to do with you and the powerful rebuttal you have given to the media mantra of "GEORGE W. BUSH HAS THE HIGHEST APPROVAL RATINGS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND!"
Hell yearh! I just bought the book. You should too.

Monday, March 25, 2002 @ 23:05 |

Mygdal to educate entrepreneur wannabees

Reboot ironclad, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and all-round nice guy Thomas Madsen-Mygdal is set to make an appearence at the Copenhagen Business School. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

He'll be answering deep, philosophical questions, such as:

  • What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?

  • How do you find the spirit in your professional life?

  • What's the benefits and demands of being an entrepreneur?
Available April 3rd, fluent in the Danish language, and resident of Copenhagen? Sign-up at seminar@doek.dk.

You'll need to fake being a student of CBS, but that shouldn't be too hard. Just say you're from HA.dat first year. I'll vouch for you.

(Diggin' running 1024x768 more by the minute — an odd fascination!)

Monday, March 25, 2002 @ 22:39 |

Turning 1024x768

My MAG Innovision XJ717 is old, tired, and blurry. In its youth, running a decent resolution, such as 1280x1024, was no sweat. If not crystal, then at least clear. True, the text on its 17 inches was a small, but a small sacrifice for the vast improvement in desktop space.

Not so any more. 1280x1024 combined with ClearType leaves any viewer waiting for their eyes to adapt. But it doesn't happen. It remains blurry. But you learn to cope.

Until you see how clear it can be. Getting the study group around for document hacking forced on the 1024x768 (as it's viewable more than 40 centimeters away). Wow! The text actually turning into a pleasant read. Amazing.

So now I'm giving it a chance. Sacrifice a roomy desktop to please the eye. I'll give it a week. If I can learn to live with 1024x768, I'm even going to pick up one of those iMacs. (It'll go well with the 10GB iPod I have on order ;))

Sunday, March 24, 2002 @ 17:16 |

MovableType goes two-ohh

Leading Perl-based blogging package MovableType recently saw light in a 2.0 version. Major news is the interface overhaul and multiple categories. The upgrading procedure is real slick, but personally it all left me slightly underwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong, MovableType is a very nice package, but for klogging and notifications it's not optimal. Building an ever increasing number of pages on the simplest design change is also growing painful. Database support next, please?

I really need to say goodbye to Greymatter soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2002 @ 17:03 |

Singlefiling Webmonkey and Daypop

The silent launch builds even more thunder. Another couple of highlights from the grapewine:

Hotwired Webmonkey: Get organized with Singlefile, the Web-based service that tracks who you've lent what to, stores data about the books you own, and recommends books you might like to acquire based on the contents of your collection.

Daypop Top #3 search: Singlefile.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002 @ 22:07 |

Wired blows the lid off Singlefile

Together with Jason Fried of 37signals fame, I've been working since mid-December on giving book lovers the tool to keep their collections in check. Online.

We've been quitely leaking the link over the past few days, but of course that's an oxymoron. Leaking something like this is never quiet. Here's two...

Wired: Do-it-yourself librarianBibliophiles now have an online tool to help organize, manage and create ongoing updated records of their holdings. Singlefile, the newest offering from the developers of the book-database software BookBin, is in beta testing now with an expected launch next week.

KottkeJason Fried has released Singlefile, an online service to help organize and share your book collection. The attention to detail with regard to the interface design is amazing. Check out 10 reasons why Singlefile is the best way to keep track of your book collection if you're interested.

We're getting loads of new members already. Let's hope my code doesn't break down too hard.

Want to have a peak at what it's all about? Check out my shared collection or make a free collection of your own (25 books max.). The full version (500 books max.) is just $19.99/year.

Monday, March 18, 2002 @ 17:37 |

Want to know the secret of eternal life?

That was her hook. She was just calling a few people in the neighborhood, and wanted to give me too the chance of learning about eternal life through the teachings of Jesus. Oh really. I doubt Jesus was ever interested in having his name used as a telemarketing hook.

Despite a vague curiosity of finding out why she was slandering that already much-tormented man for, I had no intention of letting the conversation reach to the answer of her real motives. So I told her politely, yet firm, that I wasn't interested.

Then she called back about a minute later, restating the same hook. Or tried. I cut her off half-ways through the first sentence, "You already did me", and hung up. There should be an 11th commandment: "Thou shall not telemarket (especially in my name)".

Wednesday, March 13, 2002 @ 21:57 |

Working a death march

Poor Jakob. He accepted an overly optimistic (aka. unrealistic) schedule handed down from a manager, and is now suffering the consequences. A duo of lessons that will hopefully be learned:

  • Personal schedules are the best bet. Non-technical managers are the last people in the world who should be making development schedules. Most inherit an amazing inability to grasp the intricacies of programming paired with over-zealous optimism and judgement based on previous developers accomplishments under different circumstances.

    Even trained developers, who understand all the complexities of code, are notoriously bad estimaters. Known to be off by hundreds of procents. But they're still the best bet. The lesser of many evils.

  • Unrealistic schedules make developers less productive. This is contrary to the instincts of many managers and even a lot of developers. Always being late is depressing, forces quick and bad judgement, and leaves a trail of miserable code that'll take longer to debug and which is harder to maintain and extend.
Bottomline: Don't accept the combination of a fixed deadline and feature set passed down from a manager. It's more than likely to be totally off the mark, kill your enjoyment in the work, and brand you with a growing ulcer.

Need more persuading arguments? Read Peopleware. While you await the delivery, read Joel's Painless Software Schedules

Wednesday, March 13, 2002 @ 20:35 |

47,3% Joel Compliant

Joel Spolsky has been the biggest influence in my transition from caring about to loving code. I read every single article from Joel on Software within days after discovering the site two years ago.

But reading Joel's carefully executed bursts of wisdom only left me longing for more. And on the Joel's Programmer's Bookshelf is where I found it. Freshly refined, it proposes nineteen steps to programming enlightenment.

I've taken nine of the steps so far. Each left me feeling noticebly smarter. I can't wait to stand at the top of the stairs.

Monday, March 11, 2002 @ 16:00 |

Cold horrible thinking

Yami didn't need more than a day to deliver a lenghty, thoughtful riposte to my "cold horrible thinking". I'm honered she took the time.

A short rebuttal: The concept of balancing interaction accounts borrows more than vocabulary from economics. Like the model of a market in perfect competition, variations are not covered. Individual situations are bound to differ from the model, but that doesn't (necessarily) render the model inapplicable.

Comparing my few simplistic paragraphs with the model for perfect competition is certainly wanking, but I remain unapologetic. Loud Thinking doesn't carry disclaimers to shield from criticism.

I'll take wrong over blunt thinking any day.

Getting of my high horse for a moment, and opening myself up to alligations of inconsistence, I understand your bridling. Measuring human interactions in social currency, refering to dead-end relationships as sunk cost, and measuring deficits is provoking. Romantic ideals are never lend easily to type casting. All the more reason to try.

Sunday, March 10, 2002 @ 13:31 |

Pushback on balancing interaction

Now where getting somewhere. I got my first piece of public pushback in the 102nd post history of Loud Thinking. Yami writes in the comment section of Ralph's site:

Seems to me, he's taken a common sense, give-and-take view of human relationships, removed a few subtleties, and rewritten it with a depersonalized metaphor so it sounds all sciency and he feels brave for looking at the unvarnished truth.
It would be a sad world, if topics such as social interactions could only be discussed by formally trained professionals writing reports running in the hundreds of pages. None of my writing is presented as "the truth". Or even as scientifically valid. It's not the intention. It's Loud Thinking.

And what might be perceived by you as common sense, could come as a revelation to others (now that was wanking ;)). Before writing the piece, I hadn't thought that hard about the mechanics (staying in the metaphor) of relationships before. Then I did, and the result is what you see.

I heartily welcome critique of my thoughts, but I do prefer it to be of the educational kind. Tell me about the subtleties, you think I missed. Argue the use of a better metaphor. Much anything would be an improvement on the "someone probably wrote this better".

But regardless of the pushback quality, I'm thrilled. Yami sounds like a smart girl (being a geophysics major and all), so I'm sure she can do better. Bring it on.

Sunday, March 10, 2002 @ 02:47 |

IBM takes a third hit on the drive

A new 8-hour/day usage guideline has been issued for the IBM 120GXP series. What is this company thinking about? I used to hold IBM in high regard when it came to harddrives. That's definatly long gone.

I have a 30GB disk from the 75GXP series that's so likely to fail that IBM is being slapped with a class-action suit. The laptop harddrive that started all my Sony woes is an IBM.

This company is not getting my data storage business for a decade.

Saturday, March 9, 2002 @ 17:11 |

Balancing interaction accounts

Relationships between people can only endure when the parties diligently honor the balance on their interaction account. Or, for me to reward the sharing of your thoughts with attention and enthusiasm, you must be willing to do the same.

A deficit on the interaction account can only exist for so long, before the relationship becomes in need of evaluation. The likely outcome being, that I'll write off the investment already made, if I can't reasonably expect it too improve shortly. No need to keep throwing attention or other social valuables after a under-performer. I have few reservations in viewing the investment already made as a sunk cost.

The actual balance is not only linked to the amount of time or quantity of the sessions, though, but also in the quality of its givings. You can have my attention for five discussions, and yet a single sharing of my personal trivia, which brings around the right giving reponse, can balance the account.

Scoring interactions is fuzzy science and individual. This explains why some people just aren't compatible. Their scoring techniques are too different.

Say, I value heated discussions, you the sharing of daily life trivia. Each exchange will bring my balance further out of sync with yours, until one of us deems it necessary to evaluate the relationship. That will be the point of no return, and the relationship will change. We'll loose interest in the relationship.

The development of individual scoring over time could also explain how some people grow apart. Advances in human insight, education, and personal preferences all change the personal scoring equation, and as we move through life, it's likely to become incompatible with the equation held by people we used to be able to have social exchanges with.

No one, of course, tracks this as explicitly or knowingly as outlined here. But the balance is always in our minds. When the balance is good, we look forward to further social exchanges. When the balance is bad, we dread them.

Be mindly of the balance on your interaction accounts. Acknowledge change in your personal equation. Drop bad investments, nourish the good.

(Ralph links and calls my view of the world "very honest" — Thanks Ralph!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2002 @ 15:12 |

Taking a cue from Lenny

I should be growing my Java project for delivery this Friday. We've had two weeks. I've spend a total of four hours on it. It's about time to get started, yet I continuously think up new cool things that "just needs to be done", and then I'll start. It's hugely productive, except not on what I should be productive on.

But what if you could trick your brain into thinking you had some important thing you needed to do, when you really didn't, and then harvest all that productive energy for fueling projects you wouldn't otherwise be doing? Taking a cue from Lenny. Trick yourself.

(Shout out: Got another buddy on to the blogging game)

Update: This is my 100th post since Loud Thinking started broadcasting brain nine months ago. Happy post-a-hundred to me!

Tuesday, March 5, 2002 @ 23:40 |

Why programmers dislike designing

Joel Spolsky delivers another sure-fire example of established wisdom: Design Before Code is Good. Or as he puts it, Nothing is as Simple as it Seems. Hear, hear.

But why is it so many programmers loathe designing first? I have a few theories:

  1. Design is Hard. Whereas digging in and doing all the pluming you think you'll be needing is easy. It gets you started, and the work doesn't require your full attention (a distinct advantage in a noisy office). It's repeating patterns.
  2. Design is Accessible. A good design is humanly readable. Your manager could understand it, and hence know exactly what you're doing. Maybe even offering improvements that you hadn't thought about, and since you're the all-knowing programmer, you might get to look bad. The magic disappears.
  3. Design is Commitment. It's promising what you're going to deliver, thus undermining the possibility to skimp on features when you spent a few days in a creative slump, and have to catch up to the schedule somehow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2002 @ 22:46 |

A higher reason

I don't subscribe to any certified religion, but I do believe in a higher reason. Such as the one that has revealing it self to me over the last six months.

Around October last year, I lost my part-time position battling inane office politics, and occasionally writing a line or two of JSP, as The Company "adapted to market conditions".

I shared the fate of many. But I didn't worry. At least not at first. Not until I had to worry. That being when the balance of my bank account was at the end of its race towards red ink.

Sending out probes to friends in the industry didn't help much. Desperation sat in and I applied for five student positions, all for which I was, in my humble opinion, hugely over-qualifying. I got a couple of interviews, but struck out.

First a feeling of disbelief showed up, accompanied by a fair share of arrogance: How could they pass on this golden opportunity? Then fear: What if I never find another job?

Thankfully my luck turned around just as I had reached the fear stage. And in the best possible way, as a reward of helping someone out not looking for anything in return. The ripples from that event has been amazing.

I believe.

Tuesday, March 5, 2002 @ 21:59 |

Sink holing creative endeavors

For the last couple of weeks, my life has been one of objects, constants, methods, loops, and—more mind-bending that all the other together—bugs. Programming, that is. And it's been great. I don't mind working hard when the work is educational.

But dwelling into a single area of creative expressionism for an extended period of time does has its disadvantages. I find it to be a sink hole of energy. Or maybe it's more like a snowball. Once you get it started, it'll attract more and more of your attention, until it's all you can do and breath.

Hence the slowdown of Loud Thinking. Or my all-time high indifference in preparing food of any nutritive value. Or the procrastination of dealing with onerous official papers, such as canceling that household insurance priced for home owners with a million kroners in stuff. Wait. Not much creative about the last two (or even the first, some would argue with a smile).

The point I'm trying to make is: I understand why people can grow addicted to a passion. Be it programming. Painting. Writing. Gaming. Anything that lets you feel the rush of rapid or satisfying improvement. You want more of that. Everything else is a nuisance.

Tuesday, March 5, 2002 @ 21:26 |

Selective memory warning: You could be a jerk!

"You were jerk", she said. Slightly less direct than that, perhaps. But regardless of the phrasing, she was probably right. Only I don't remember it that way. My selective memory chose only to keep a general notion of what she was referring to. Filtered to match my self-image of not being a jerk.

See, last year, while in the progress of settling for study partners on our first formal computer science report, I had tried to jiggle my way out of a request to join her group. And trying to be polite by offering an excuse, I'd made matters worse. A lot worse.

I took the road of the snob, saying basically, "I'm on an entirely different level than you in this course. So I don't think we should be in the same group. You probably wouldn't learn much [and I'd be bugged down]." Oy.

At least that's what she later told me. When we talked about the ordeal a few months later. She had been royally pissed—with good reason. But not only had I chosen to leave out any recollection of my harsh treatment towards her, I'd also been blissfully ignorant of the subsequently hostility she said she had been sending.

The self-image is strong and works a multi-leveled charade of fooling your conscious thinking. Beware.

Want more loud thinking? Check the archives
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