My Podcast Listening List now Scrobbled via Rockbox

I’m experimenting with a new thing now. A side effect of running Rockbox is that I can have it save a list of what I’ve played on my Sansa Clip+. Since the player has a clock it even has them in the right order and somewhat sensible timing (give or take a time zone issue or two.) In the sidebar is a little playlist widget that shows my recent plays via Last.fm (which you can also see at my profile here.) I’m just fiddling with this so at any point in the future I may stop doing this, remove the widget or what have you. My queue has been beaten down from 6 weeks to right at 4 weeks and now you can play along at home.

I used to be somewhat cagey about what podcasts I listen to. I’d mention what I really like but generally keep my mouth shut about the ones I don’t much like. In the earlier days of podcasts when it was a closer knit group and my opinion mattered more to more people, people paid a fair amount of attention to my opinion on such matters. For that reason, I wouldn’t have done this then. The sad truth is that I have plenty of friends in the podcast world, people whose company I enjoy and that I consider friends whose podcasts I don’t listen to. It’s nothing personal, I have a specific set of tastes and finite time so its just the way it goes. I never wanted to hurt people’s feelings on the matter. Now if you pay careful attention you’ll notice shows that are missing. If that’s you, please don’t be bummed.

For the record, I don’t care who does or doesn’t listen to my show. If you know me personally and don’t listen, that doesn’t bum me out in the slightest. This is not a new issue to me. From my time doing the Reality Break radio show, I met a number of science fiction and fantasy writers and became friends with some of them. In general I tend to like the fiction of my friends but that’s not a one to one correspondence. There is a well known writer in the field who has been unbelievably kind and friendly to me, whose presence I love to be in and whose work I can’t read for more than a paragraph. For that matter, the late Robert Jordan was very nice to me personally, wrote me a hand-written thank you note for interviewing him and whose work is just plain not my thing and that I can’t read.

If you want to be my friend on Last.fm, go for it. I’ll accept every request that comes in. I’m exposing part of my hand with all this, but I’m no longer so concerned about that. That’s one of the positive upsides of losing traction in the podcast world. I don’t have to guard my opinions so closely. Let the playlists fly!

The Day I Quit Caring about NPR

I have posted before about how I spent my adult life as a public radio financial supporter and devoted listener, but since the beginning of the podcast era I have completely stopped caring about NPR, its affiliates, and practically all of its programming. If you look at the comments on that linked post, there is a guy who takes me to task because some of the programs I talk about are NPR, some are PRI, etc. He feels that invalidates my point but I think his nitpicking actually supports my larger point, which is that public radio has systematically ceased to interest me. It’s not a single point of failure.

If you want to be specific about when NPR news programming lost me, I can pinpoint the exact date, and in fact the exact story. July 28, 2006. The story was called “Sitting on the Porch: Not a Place, But a State of Mind.” It was an exploration of the role of the front porch in America. This was the story I am thinking about when I state that modern day NPR news reporting “explores the intersection of the uninteresting and the irrelevant.”

When I hear people talk about how good the NPR reportage is, it seems to me like this is residual karma. There was a time when the reportage was very good indeed, but that time is passed. For people that do think this is the case, are there stories from the last few years you can point to?

One of the things spurring this post at this time is that I just decided to stop listening to the News from Lake Wobegon podcast. I had been finding it a step up from listening to the whole of Prairie Home Companion because truth be told, it is the only part I cared about. The podcast was a step up because there was a lower risk of hearing Garrison Keillor singing. Over the last few months, I’ve just realized that I just don’t care anymore. A few minutes ago I erased that line from my bashpodder subscription list and now it is gone. This thing that once was so completely essential in my life is now barely even present. Part of this is a direct line from podcasting changing my tastes but a lot is the programming itself. It’s like a what used to be a favorite meal at my favorite restaurant that one day I just lost the taste for. It’s sad, but things move on and now so do I.

Update: Here is Roger Ebert waxing rhapsodic about how much he loves NPR. He sounds like me, 15 years ago. The bloom is off this rose for me. I don’t care about the news, the entertainment programming, any of it. I want to buy a new car stereo that includes an auxilliary input jack which my current one doesn’t have. If I could save $10 on one by having no radio in it at all, I’d take that option. I truly don’t care.

An Utter Fiasco (The Fun Kind)

Last week I met up with a few folks to play the game Fiasco. I had first heard about the game right before XCon last month, and Darren Miller was running the game at the convention. I very briefly met him him then but didn’t have the time to sit and play a full game. It was quite fun. I am not an RPG player, and I really appreciated how the game mechanics were minimal and mostly existed to keep us telling the story. When in doubt, don’t sweat the details and tell the most entertaining story, which I found a very fun way to approach a game.

Darren has posted a play report of our session. As we wrapped it up, I think most of us said the same thing, which was that if the story we generated was a movie, we’d watch it. My character was “Wally Smalls”, the hardware store proprietor whose attempt to use the family inheritance to flip a shady real estate deal drove most of the mayhem. My favorite Coen-esque wrinkle was when Paul aka my uncle “Cliff” accidentally maimed (and had thought he had killed) the guy I was on my way to murder. I think I truly surprised Darren when we met up at the post-murder dumping ground and I shot his character. I had that in mind for a long time. His character was the one coercing my character into the act, who didn’t want to do it but due to external pressures agreed to it. From the first moment we set up the rendezvous to dispose of the body, I knew that “Carl” was going in the same place as the other corpse. It wasn’t a sheer power play, because I also wanted my character caught for his crimes right in the middle of the act. It put me in mind of one of my favorite moments in any noir film or Coen Brothers movie, the scene in Blood Simple where after burying Dan Hedaya’s body in the field we see the sun slowly rise and as it does, we see the field is empty dirt with giant thick tire tracks leading straight to the shallow grave. The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you watch that was what I was hoping to get out of the game, and did I ever!

I highly recommend this game, and I think it is a good one for people who aren’t that into RPG. It’s all about story, and if you are willing to contribute, you will have fun.

My Rockbox Experience

Through a circuitous route, I ended up installing both an updated Sansa firmware on my Clip+ last week, and then a few hours later the Rockbox firmware. I had a vague hope against hope that either would correct the one thing I don’t much like about the player – the fact that the fast-forward and rewind are silent. Unfortunately, neither one changed that. I did however like a lot about Rockbox. I loved that I could change the display to the “mixtape” theme which makes it look like an old school Walkman complete with spools that change in proportion to the percentage of the file played.

The one thing about Rockbox that was unfriendly to my primary use of podcast listening was the way it restarted every file every time. That’s a bummer when one is 2 hours into a 3 hour show to lose your place by accidentally bumping the skip button (a pretty common occurrence with me.) There is a an automatic bookmarking system that is both complex and hard to get going. Even worse, it bookmarks on stop (not pause) so it doesn’t even address the accidental skip problem. Coincidentally I ran across this dude who was bugged by the same thing and posted some patches less than 24 hours before I started using it.

My previous post relates my story trying to get this set up on my Macbook, which seems to be a platform the Rockbox developers don’t much care about. On my work laptop I was able to get the source, apply the original patches and build it. As I fiddled with the UISimulator I didn’t quite like the heuristic of that work, which did the automatic position saving only when the file was over 20 minutes long. I have plenty of podcast files under 20 minutes long that I still want the position preserved on, so I changed the logic from the file being greater than 20 minutes to the path beginning with “/PODCASTS/” which is a built-in directory on the Sansa Clip anyway. The original firmware treats the /MUSIC hierarchy differently than /PODCASTS and I was cool with that, so I just preserved it. I made myself a build this afternoon and I’ve been using it all day since then. I sure like it in general. However, I think I’m going to also add in the ability to test against the ID3 Genre tag so that if it is “Podcast” preserve the same behavior regardless of path. I also am going to see if I can figure out how to make the left skip button not reset to the beginning of the file if it is podcast by the above criteria and then only skip by full files. At that point, I’ll have the absolute best features of Rockbox matched up with the original Sansa Clip firmware. Rock on!

I don’t know that there is any point in trying to submit them back to the Rockbox project because the are pretty specific to my use case, specific to the Sansa way of doing things, and because the original dude seems to be catching static from the Rockbox developers for this feature that I find so wonderful. I guess I’ll offer it up to them if I can generalize it but they don’t appear that interested in it. I can say that the currently released automatic bookmarking feature is unusable and the dude’s patch is wonderful to me. This is what open source is all about, is it not? I like it better this way, so I make it that way. If they don’t want it release, I’ll be happy with my homebrew version and they can release whatever they want.

Open Source Fun

I’ve started playing around with Rockbox for my Sansa Cip+, about which I’ll post separately. However, I wanted to point out something I found interesting, funny and kind of pathetic. I downloaded the source and could build the firmware itself but the testable UI Simulator does not build on the Snow Leopard version of OS X. You’d think that the software failing to build on the most widely distributed Unix variant on a newest version that has been out for a year would be of interest to them, but you’d be wrong. Instead the advice was to set up a VM instance, install Linux on it and build from there. Oh boy. That’s a fun way to encourage participation – add yet another yak to shave. Pass.

As it happens, my day job workstation is Ubuntu and I spent today doing work with some slow compiles so I was able to build and test from there in the dead time waiting for builds. However, there was no chance of me going out of my way to set up a Linux VM on my Macbook in order to work with Rockbox software. At that point, you might as well tell me to “write a distributed map reduce function in Erlang”, ala this webcomic.

A Life Without Twitter (Mostly)

I’m still readjusting to the new baseline of being a non-constant user of Twitter. It feels a lot like when I gave up drinking sodas earlier this summer. At first I thought about it all the time and had constant cravings for what was missing. After a while the cravings went away and now with sodas, I almost never miss them. I’m getting that way with Twitter.

I’m not 100% averse to ever looking at it. I did just a minute ago to look at what people were posting about BarCampCHS. That kind of use is fine with me. What I’m not doing is spending all day every day twitching every few minutes when updates arrive and what I’m not doing is trying to figure out how to boil what I’m thinking or doing into 140 characters. It’s a relief to not have to constantly monitor something that is changing effectively all the time, and it’s a relief to stretch out my cognition into longer thoughts at less frequent intervals.

I still see anything with the @geniodiabolico string in at in my Google Reader eventually. It might be a day or more so the real time aspect has gone away but I’m OK with that. So little of what goes through that pipe is really of an urgency to need my attention Right This Second so I’m happy to harmonize my life back with acdtual priorities.

All told, my new evaluation function for everything is very much the way the Amish examine technologies. Nothing is rejected outright but is examined in the context of whether the benefits it brings outweigh the cost to their society. In my case, it’s all about big picture, long term happiness. The truth of the matter is that Twitter makes me less happy in ways large and small when I use it constantly. Thus, it’s out. Look out Facebook, you are next.

I Need DIY/Maker Suggestions for Newbie Resources

I am interested in learning more about stripping down junk electronics for maker/DIY projects. For example, I know you can reclaim the stepper motors out of printers and use them in a variety of projects. Can anyone point to a good comprehensive resource on how to reclaim the reclaimable out of ones old electronic junk? I have an ever growing assortment of old broken computers, wifi access points, printers and the like. The Make Magzine/maker movement has played into the worst aspects of my pack rat personality and now always puts the “Hey, don’t pitch that as there might be something usable” bug in my ear.

In my effort to de-crapify my life, I have decided that I want most of this stuff out of my house and my life. I’m still generally interested in doing some passes of stripping out the most usable stuff before passing it on, probably to the Best Buy in Myrtle Beach with their recycle program. I’d love to see some sort of absolute beginners guide to what to do first. Failing that, I guess my next step is to write the monkey fighting thing, if one doesn’t exist, right? Isn’t that how DIY works?

Thanks for any advice.

My New Comment Policy and Thoughts on Funny Hats

For the first time in the eight year history of this weblog, I have an explicitly posted comment policy. At times I have really struggled with this. There have been moments when I have been overwhelmed by antagonists. A few examples leap to mind, usually when I make a post critical of someone with strong fan support and/or a forum or Twitter account from which to marshall people to swarm me. Once was when I dared criticism Ze Frank’s video podcast as not working right and not being good enough to be worth the trouble. Another was while the floodwaters were still in New Orleans and bodies were still floating down the street, and this blog became a nexus for anti-American hate speech. I ain’t hanging with that, and I ain’t being pulled by the strings of my own sense of fairness to punch myself in the face.

My struggle is always balancing a reverence for free speech with my reluctance to be the host of speech with pretty much no value other than to stick it to me. For this reason, I have always been loathe to just delete these comments outright, no matter how spiteful or douchey they were. That struggle is pretty much over. I’ve decided that I don’t have any obligation to be the publisher of anything anyone says and if I don’t like it, I will get rid of it. This usually boils down into the “life is too short” approach. When people’s only interest is to be a drive-by egg thrower, I’m not going to refuse to hose off my siding anymore.

Dealing with antagonistic comments is nothing new. Practically every newspaper in the country has comments that are useless because they let any form of vitriol and attack live in there with no efforts to police it. Think YouTube or Slashdot threads, and you’ll realize that many commenting systems break down quickly into a race to the bottom. Some time ago I listened to the Webcomics Weekly episode where Scott Kurtz had a conversation with Merlin Mann. Building and nurturing community was a lot of what they talked about and naturally comments and fora came up. They discussed the topic of disemvowelling (a technique created by science fiction fandom’s own Teresa Nielsen Hayden) and Merlin was against it. He said something I’ll paraphrase as “Moderate it or don’t; delete it or let it stand but don’t make your commentors wear a funny hat.” I heard that, and my first reaction was “I’m OK with funny hats.”

Here is a technique I thought up and am morally OK with but which I never actually put into practice on this blog, although I always reserve the right to do it someday.

  1. Create an email address that you control and can receive email at, but is unguessable. Some random string of 20 characters like a GUID or a digest or a random password any generating website can create for you. Keep this secret as it is really important.
  2. Set up a Gravatar using that address as the key. Set up the picture as something really stupid. A dude wearing a dunce cap, a picture of a donkey’s ass, anything that is a clear iconic indicator of disdain.
  3. Someone leaves a comment that is in the douchey grey area, a non-spam comment actually entered by a person that is a legitimate statement but also from someone not of good will – an ad hominem attacker, a drive-by mud flinger, anyone with an axe to grind but who has not put in enough karma and flight time to have the right to be as big a dick as they desire to be. Rather than approve or delete the comment as it stands, edit it so that the posting email address is your email from Step 1. Now approve it.
  4. Every time you read the offending comment, laugh at them like a monkey fighter.

This has two upsides – it allows the comment to be published as it stands while making it clear that it is recognized as being an offender of the social contract; and by editing the email address to something the poster does not know, they do not get automatic moderation for future comments. That’s always a weakness when you have WordPress configured as they almost all are to allow anyone with approved comments to skip moderation. Approve one borderline commentor and from then on they have the key to automatic posting. I have never done the above technique but I certainly could without feeling bad about it. If you want to come in my house and be a dick, you are subject to house rules. Now, I’ve just made the house rules explicitly posted.

The point to emphasize and be clear on is that disagreement with me does not trigger any of this. You can think I’m as wrong as you like. It’s aggression that is the key. Telling my I’m a dick or an idiot, particularly if that is your first ever interaction with me doesn’t stand. Ad hominem attacking of any of the other commentors will not stand. If you can’t express yourself without aggression, you’ll have to do it elsewhere. We’re following the rules of the Roadhouse here. “Be nice” and for bouncers (ie, me) “Be nice until you have to not be nice.”

XCon 2010 Wrapup with My Bob Camp Story

Bob Camp at XCon 2010

This year I attended the XCon comic book convention in Myrtle Beach at Springmaid Beach Resort a few weekends ago, as I have for all three years of its existence. I’m told the attendance was the largest so far and on the growth track that one might expect for the third year of a newish regional con. I had a good time myself. This was the longest time I ever spent on the floor, getting there right at when it opened on Friday at 2 PM and staying through about 5 PM or so, and then spending another 5 or so hours on Saturday. It’s one of those things where a convention in the town you already live in is tougher to spend time at than an out of town one. When I go to Heroescon or Dragon*Con, I check into a nearby hotel and basically do nothing but the con. When I go to XCon, I still have all my normal life in play to work around.

There seemed to be fewer of the ultra-cheap comic dealers at the con this year. I do my standard heuristic where I scope out all the boxes, and then dig through the boxes in order of cheapest up. What I do is try to go through each dealer’s bargain bins thoroughly all the way, one time and one time only. It takes a while but going back and forth is a super drag and very difficult to keep track of. Thus, once I’m done I’m done. I did find a fair number of books I was looking for. It’s one of those great feelings in a comic collectors life finding books that were already on your wishlist in 50 cent or 3/$1 boxes.

Dalek at XCon 2010

There seemed to be a lot of gaming around. If I had a little more time to devote to it I would have actually tried to get into one of the games of Fiasco that were being run by Darren G. Miller. I had just read up on the game a few days before the con and then in one of those small town coincidences met Darren when he was talking to one of his friends who is also on my softball team. There was a good bit of buzz around the area with the games being run and a lot of smiling people that seemed to be having a good time. There were lots of costumes, and a thing called “Lolita cafe” that seemed to involve lots of the young women cosplayers and what one dude on Twitter wondered “how this wasn’t getting the whole venue shut down.” I never did venture upstairs to see what it was all about.

I got books signed by local comics pro Jonathan Hickman and chatted to him a little about Thor and Nick Fury, two characters he is currently writing. Over the course of my time, I tried to pick up something from a lot of the pros that had books for sale. I’d guess that I bought a little something from around half the guests at the tables. Generally if the only thing available were higher priced paintings and sketches I passed, but if you had a comic for a few bucks, I got that. I feel a little bad for the media guests every year. I never know who the people are, not many folks are talking to them and I usually just walk past them briskly.

I will have to say that one of the coolest part of the whole deal was the full size Dalek. It had a voice treatment that sounded spookily authentic and moved about like the Daleks in all the Dr. Who shows I’ve watched. I was assuming a dude had a radio control setup with a microphone and I kept looking for it. Eventually I found out there was a guy inside the Dalek. Holy time lords, that is dedication! I can’t imagine actually doing that but I’m a little claustrophobic.

All in all, I had a good time. I heard some of the organizational stuff about 2011 already, and I think they are going to a solid 2 day Saturday/Sunday con and getting rid of the half Friday, which I think is a good move. Overall, I think things are right where you want them to be and progressing nicely. It’s nice to have a local con and especially one that is more relaxing than the heavyweight other Southeastern cons.

So here is the Bob Camp part of the story. He was an inaugural guest at year one, and came back this year. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of Ren and Stimpy, of which he was a co-creator. I like it well enough whenever it was on TV but I never sought it out. Still, he seems like a really great guy and folks who had talked to him report it being really fun. I would have enjoyed that and I was looking for a reason to talk to him.

Bob Camp Sketch from XCon 2010

As I was browsing through some of the magazine boxes (where I found a copy of an old Warren Spirit!), I ran across Savage Tales #5. I remember buying issue #1 when I was a teenager, mainly because of the Michael Golden artwork. As I pulled it out and looked for it, I noticed the signature on the cover painting – Bob Camp. “Hell yeah,” I though to myself and gladly shelled out the $2 for this very nice copy and took it over to Bob’s table to get it signed.

His eyes kind of bugged out when I handed it to him to sign. He said “Wow! I haven’t seen that in years. I did the painting and sold the original, and I don’t even have a copy of this issue. The only scan I have is low resolution and not that great.” My reply was to hand him the copy and tell him to keep it. “I’m not attached to it,” I said. “I’ve only owned it a few minutes.” He felt bad about just taking the magazine so he offered to do a “really nice sketch for me” in exchange for it. I said sure and went off about my business. I gave him some time and came back about half an hour later, and he handed me the Ren and Stimpy pencil sketch to the right. Check out the full-sized scan on Flickr to get a sense of what it really looks like. I really like it. He did not lie, it is indeed really nice.

So, it was neat to have this little exchange with Bob. To be honest, even without him giving me the sketch I would have given him the magazine just for the story of it all. It was a win-win. I got a nice sketch that he was selling for $20 in exchange for a magazine I paid $2 for. He got a copy of his work that he had been missing for 25 years in exchange for a few minutes of drawing time. I got to talk to him and hang out, and he seemed really happy to have the copy to scan. These are the kinds of moments I always shoot for at cons, and it was great to get one at my local show. Rock on, comic nerds!

Twitter’s Last Straw

I’ve never liked Twitter as a company. At points I’ve had some regard for the communication stream enabled by the company, but them as an entity at best I’ve tolerated and at worst I’ve wished them into the cornfield. I’m not sure of where this is all going but today I began noticing in my stream of updates from the people I have selected to follow Tweets with a special signifier that said “Promoted by Coca-Cola” and “Promoted by McDonalds.” That’s really the last straw from me. At one point I burned my own Twitter network to the ground, I worked out a way to get most of that value without touching Twitter at all and earlier this year I took a delicious month off from using it.

I don’t know exactly where this is going, whether this feature stands or what the backlash is. When Twitter began to get celebrity focused, when the primary ethic was that of having the most ginormous list of followers I cared less about it every day. When they have now turned the corner to take this stream and insert preferentially Tweets that big corporations want me to see, that’s the end of my ride.

You might say, “Dave, what’s the big deal? The ones you saw weren’t even overtly promotional.” That, dear readers, is exactly the problem. If it was “Buy McRibs, the most delicious meatlike product we could formulate for $0.17 a pound!” I would have less of a problem. Having ordinary looking tweets elevated to “must see” at the behest of McDonalds, Coca-Cola or whomever else pays for that privilege is deeply flawed. I would have basically no problem with banner ads on the site and maybe even banners showing between tweets. I’m no hippy-dippy type, I understand that somewhere down the line the power bill needs paid. When you can pay to make tweets a higher priority communication than that of the people I chose to interact with, I’m done.

I’m not sure the final endgame of all this, but starting today I do not check HootSuite all day every day. I’m not deleting my account, possibly there is some value to be extracted from this. However, I’m now in it for myself. When I use Twitter it is purely for myself and to pimp and whore whatever I want. It’s not personal – it’s all business to me. I didn’t make it that way, Twitter did. I’m just rolling with the new rules.

The Authors with No Web Presence

As I write blog posts for my side project Ebooks From TV, I boggle practically every day at a phenomenon that shocks me. As I try to gather web links for authors, I frequently run across fairly high profile authors with absolutely no web presence that they control themselves. These are authors you have heard of, that write bestsellers and award winning books. The pattern seems to be most often that they are writers with big publishers whose day job is also writing for a big media company. High profile columnists at New York based publications who then write books are frequently in this position.

I think it is now past the time where that is a profoundly bad decision. These authors have whatever sites their publishers and employers put up for them, and as far as the indexed web is concerned that is their identity. Putting up your own site costs $100 a year plus a case of beer for your niece or nephew to set the damn thing up. Your publisher might drop you or you might leave them. You might get laid off from your newspaper or magazine. Do you really want the first page on a Google search for your name to to include no sites that you control? This is not hard work nor an expensive proposition. I know your career has involved you outsourcing such things to publishers. I’d suggest that that you learn to pack your own parachute because if this plane goes down you really don’t want to go down with it.

Even Mike Doughty Has His Own Blog Reclamation Problems

I’m not the only one who feels that Twitter has eaten my blog. Musician Mike Doughty blogs recently about the book he’s writing, a memoir of his time in Soul Coughing and being an addict then being sober. Embedded in that is this paragraph:

Blogging, as an art form, isn’t as fun as micro-blogging. Writing on Twitter, I think, is a better form of communication on the web; I’m a fan of parameters as a creative tool. So my real blogging has suffered. I’m trying to get back on the horse, though; I’m trying to generate thoughts that take longer than three lines to express. It is, of course, a thankless struggle.

I’ve started shutting down HootSuite for hours at a time. All the criticisms I’ve made about microblogging still stand. The whole reason I’m involved in any of new media – blogging, podcasting, self-publishing – is that I want to own my own shit and control my own destiny. I’m one of the few holdouts in my circle by not wanting to carry around an always-on device buzzing constantly with social media status messages. I want to think slower, react slower, write at greater length and cogitate more deeply on issues.

Software Engineering Radio Interview with Kent Beck

I often randomly stumble across podcasts and try a few episodes out. I just did that with Software Engineering Radio, mainly to hear this interview with Kent Beck. He is the person behind JUnit. In my job I try to to test driven development wherever possible (given that I work on a system with many many moving parts.) We have a unit test framework for our C code and if any problem can be reduced to a failing unit test case, that is always where I want to start. I’ve gotten to the point that in those cases where it just isn’t feasible, working without that test coverage makes me itchy and nervous.

There is a second order effect to all this that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. When it is part of the culture of a team to always unit test their code, outside of the value of the testing itself if forces the code to be written in a testable manner. You tend to not have gigantic functions with many effects because those just aren’t testable. The same aspects that make it unit testable also make it more understandable when new people are brought on board to maintain it, so that is always a long term positive.

It’s been over 4 years now since I wrote Java code on a daily basis, so my understanding of the state of that art is slowly atrophying. One part of the interview I found really interesting was when Beck talked about JUnit Max. I had never previously heard of it, but it is an Eclipse plugin for doing continuous unit testing in the background as you work, in the same way Eclipse is always compiling after every change. There are some interesting heuristics in it, such as more recent tests run first as well as tests that have failed most recently. The idea is to put any failures in front of the developer as quickly after saving a code file as possible, so by guestimating which ones have a higher probability of failure, JUnit Max tries to get to that point faster. Also interesting is that it is not free, but $100/year for a license. This seems like a very good way to monetize open source. JUnit itself is free, and Beck et all have given it to the work for free. This value added enhancement which is primarily of value to those whose time is money (high rate consultants or high wage employees) is not free, but also priced such that practically any organization is going to see a payback quickly. The guy has saved the development world billions of dollars by allowing them to find bugs earlier, it makes sense to kick him $100/license for saving you a little more time if you need it. Everyone is a winner.