Fruit Orchards Part 2

According to this post from Riverbend, the cutting down of the orchards is true. Whether the motivation was punishment I have not seen independently confirmed. As of yet, it appears no other news organization has mentioned this story. I saw some right wing blogs say that this verifies the falsity of the story, which is of course specious reasoning. For three months, major news organizations ignored the Plame leak story, yet it was true. Lack of reporting on a story is not evidence of lack of truth, nor is it evidence of truth.

Silly Diminutives

Here’s an expression that bugs the living hell out of me. I see it and hear it all that time, and I cringe every time. “Addy” used for “address”. I just saw it in a couple of postings and mails. “I’ll send you my email addy” and such. It sounds stupid, it is no shorter than the full word spoken and saves a scant three characters written, and it is just plain annoying. This isn’t a full boil clock tower thing, but just one of those low level annoyances that slowly irks the crap out of me.

Reboot the Phone

My friend Shannon put up a page with photos of his cell phone crashing. I’ve had similar things happen, but not with the smoking gun of obvious error output like that. My cheapo Nokia once just stopped responding to keypresses, and like Shannon I had to take the battery out to get it working again. Methinks maybe the firmware authors need to run some lint-like programs over their code. Actually, most developers at any time could stand to do that.


I’m cut off from a lot of my normal communications – I don’t have TV I can watch yet, I’m on a dialup so not browsing as much as usual, etc. There seems to be another e-mail virus amok. Across my various accounts, I must have gotten 20 different mails with some .pif attachment. Since I’m reading it all via web clients, it is easy to spot them. They have some vague subject (“Your Details”, “That Movie”) or are disguised as bounces with “more information in the attachment”. I guess this is a social engineering attempt to get even the people who don’t use Outlook or automatically invoke attachments to fire it off manually. I don’t even know what a .pif file is, but I’m in no danger right now of accidentally invoking one. The only impact is the filling up of my mail accounts with this 100k attachment over and over.

What I don’t understand is how many of these things it takes before people wake up to the fact that Microsoft products with their shoddy security are risky things. In the last month, I’ve lost at least 5 hours of productivity to patching OS and dealing with various MS virus issues and this is without ever getting infected, just in preventative measures. Multiply that by a few dozen million people, and just the recent fiascos mean that MS has cost billions in lost productivity. Their slogan should be “We cut the corners and pass the costs on to you!” The products suck, they have a high cost of ownership, they cost you much time just to keep them running, they put you at risk frequently, and people line up to buy them. Whatever. I have never bought an MS OS in my life. The two Windows machines I have were both provided by employers. My money either goes for Linux boxes or Macs. I really dig my used OS X box, and if/when my trusty Thinkpad wears out, I’m going with an Apple laptop all the way. I’ve always preferred Macs but with Linux desktops getting better and the existence of OS X, I see no reason to buy a Windows machine ever again.

Grace be unto you

For her birthday, I got my wife a painting of our dog Gracie, as done by Michelle Abeyta. I blogged about first seeing her paintings, and I went ahead and commissioned it. I love the way it turned out. If you hurry to the page, as of this writing the painting of Gracie is up on the front page. I love the stylized folk art look of her work, and she was nice enough to drive the painting out to where I work (!!), rather than me driving to Decatur to pick it up. I’ll bet for those of you outside Atlanta who like this sort of stuff, she’d even ship it out. Hint hint.

Sage Words

Via Darin, who pointed me at Joel on Software, who points at articles at the Dexterity Games site, comes this gem: a comparison of amateur vs. professional shareware developers. This article can easily be generalized beyond the nominal subject to amateurism vs. professionalism. I see this kind of stuff every day, and I think Steve Pavlina really understands what he’s talking about. The section of “Psychological Factors” is truly good stuff and I see many of the stuff of his amateurs in many businesses (names unnamed) that should be professional but act like amateurs.

A side trip down one of these links also led to his article on how to cultivate burning desire. Also very good stuff – burn the ships, indeed.

Are VCs a necessary evil?

Joel Spolsky has an interesting article questioning the necessity of venture capital in new businesses. I like the cut of his jib – much of what he says mirrors my observations from working for startups for the last five years. If you can possibly make it without taking VC money, I think you should. Any company that has the possibility of bootstrapping themselves should give that a shot. If that requires frugality, so be it. You have a much better chance of surviving if you aren’t forced to meet short term profitability goals by external forces.

The article has an appendix of references, including two weblogs by VCs, Venture Blog and Joi Ito. I’ll be checking those out. I’ve already seen, a pretty realistic look at the startup world. At least, it is aligned with what I’ve seen of it. Parts of it were strongly cringeworthy as I’d seen all those mistakes in my own career.

For disgruntled jobseekers

I saw a reference to this in Carl Fink’s group on Dueling Modems. Fuck that Job!

Because job hunting daily is demoralizing enough without having to deal with employers who want you to speak Swahili for low or no pay.
If you’ve got a job listing insane enough to be posted on FTJ, you can submit it here.

Innovator’s Dillemma

Before the trip to North Carolina, I was listening to the audiobook of Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. As it turns out, he has a website for his work . Interesting stuff, but I’m not sure I buy all of it. The central premise is that successful companies are stymied by paradigm shifting technologies, because all the mechanisms that made them succeed in their present business subtly prevent them from succeeding in the new market.

The Effect

In cleaning out a mailbox I found an old link from Darin about the effect, John Robb’s supposition that increased information flow will allow informed consumers to keep prices down through competition while the same allows them to keep wage growth strong, leading to a shift where corporations make less via profits and individuals get more actual wealth. I’m not sure I buy it but I actually would like it if his scenario plays out this way.

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Teresa Nielsen-Hayden writes a harrowing essay about harrowing
essay about the covering nature of executives in over their heads

– specifically about the commander-in-chief but broadly about many
people of this sort. I happen to have some above me in organizations
and I recognized the description as being all to accurate. Beware the
executives that substitute bluster for reason – chances are they are
using the bluster is that they don’t have the tools to use the reason.

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Here’s a news item forward by my punk buddy Jonny X (leader of a
band that was a former band of the day): A story about a
startup that is staying alive by frugality
. The company is Oddpost, a joint that does a web
based e-mail app that is supposedly much more usable than hotmail or
yahoo or the like. What I like about this story is that it is the same
thing I’ve been saying – this is actually a good time to upstart a
startup, despite everyone thinking it is bad. During the boom,
everything was expensive – office space, people, PR. Now all that has
gotten cheaper and the excesses of the past are paring back. For
companies that get rolling now, they have better chances than the ones
starting during the thick of 98-99.

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At work, the aforementioned Darin often uses the phrase “bike shed” to
describe arguments or discussions or meetings. Here is a page describing the
derivation of the term
. Basically, it is about the principal that
people argue most about the least important things because they want
to prove they are present and active, but they don’t understand enough
to put that energy towards important stuff, so they focus it on
trivia. I see this every single day of my life.

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Did a little XMas shopping this evening. We got run out of the office
at 2:30 PM (those of us who were still there and working.) You
normally don’t have to tell me twice to make me gone, but today I did
have something I needed to finish because it gated other
developers. Companies do so much to instill motivation in employees
(developers in particular I’m talking about) and yet nothing motivates
me as much as the thought I might be letting my team down. That’s the
way to do it. The company as a whole is abstract, and even your
individual contribution to the value of stock or stock options. What
is more tangible and concrete is the look on the faces of the guys in
your office or their tone of voice on the phone when they needed
something from you and you couldn’t or didn’t deliver it.

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This one via my underworked friend from Kansas, Kevin. It’s a story
about a Mac guy who
caught a scam artist with the help of a group of Mac enthusiasts.

There is one line in the update I don’t understand:

Update 12/13/02 11:28 CST: Harlan Ellison just called me. I feel all
warm and fuzzy inside. It looks like I’m going to be on CNET Radio
tonight. Tune in.

Why in the world does Harlan Ellison care? I know he is no Mac enthusiast.

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I think yesterday was the most I ever put in a day’s worth of weblog,
even if you correct for the large table of search engine stuff. Just
how it fell, I guess.

I saw a number of my hits also involved “Open COLA”. I had e-mailed
their support after the first time they changed their active directory
structure such that you had to redo all the directories and said that
if that happened again, I was going to cease using the beta. I spent
several hours setting up those directories with meaningful stuff,
trying to use this thing like I would in real life. To periodically
have that work go “Poof! Sorry, we changed stuff so do all that
again!” is not something I’m willing to have happen to me over and
over. I played with it for about 5 minutes last night, but avoided
getting sucked back into that trap. Sorry guys, your thing is super
cool but I don’t have the time to burn on you if you’re going to keep
playing this way.