Friday, August 29, 2008

a language too far

So I'm learning Flash now.


Please shoot me if I start talking about my new Prius, the Dave Matthews Band, or how I wished there was a Starbucks closer to where I lived.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Some science dudes have put out a quick report where they used Google Earth to check out pictures of cows, and have found that 2/3 of cows will align themselves pointing towards magnetic north... assuming no overriding conditions exist (ie, arctic wind, rabid wolf, etc).

I wonder how long it takes before Bear Grylls finds a way to work that factoid into a show. Although, I guess, there can't be really be that much Wild to versus if you're near cows in the first place.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

LHC about to kill us all

CERN's LHC is about to fire up soon, and that means before too long one of three things will happen:

1) we'll have the first evidence Higgs particles exist
2) we'll have more evidence of Higgs particles not existing
3) the universe will implode as the creation of antimatter sparks a chain reaction tearing apart the fabric of space and time itself

One of the biggest questions in cosmology is, "What existed before the Big Bang?"

It is my hope that the answer is not "an anti-Earth that had anti-Europeans who spent an 60 billion anti-euros on creating an anti-LHC". :)

But, what the hell. Here's to hoping we're all here after they flip the switch, and a geek rap video about what they're doing:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

catch 22

And while we're talking about stuff from novels here....

I had a chance to finally scratch Catch 22 by Joseph Heller off my Stuff to Read(tm) List.

I wish I hadn't, because now that I have I keep grinding my teeth everyone uses "catch 22" when they're talking about a paradox. A chicken-or-egg situation. In order to get venture capital to finance development of your software, you need to have developed your software. That kind of thing.

But the real definition of a catch 22 is revealed at the end of the book: those who are stronger than you can do anything to you that you are unable to stop them from doing. The problem isn't that the rules don't make sense... it's that you have to obey any rules in the first place. Or, to put it even more concisely: might makes right.

Heller's solution to the problem? Fscking flee. Get out from underneath the power behind the rules and remove the constraint altogether.

It's a good book, I highly recommend checking it out if you haven't.

on the gripping hand

I think I caused some confusion with the last post.

I'm not opposed to "version 2.0"'s. I fully recognize that there are business constraints on any software development project, and that a lot of times you can't implement functionality that's needed in the time you've been given. So you get the software into a useful state and save the stuff you can't get to for later releases.

No problem with that, we're all in agreement.

But, there's also a finish line with any software development project. A point where it does what you need for it to do. It's functionally complete, and the only way to justify further development is to create tangential features that don't really do much to boost the functionality of the software.. it just adds bullet points for the marketing people to put on the box. You're no longer solving a real problem: you're attempting to turn a final-purchase sale into a subscription.

That's what I don't get.

If you've got a long list of new "features" that truly need to be added, then you need to take a step back, reassess the problem, and figure out where your software fails to solve the problem, and start from scratch (from an infrastructure standpoint... I'm not saying you chuck out all the useful algorithms or recode UIs) for the next generation of the product.

Monday, August 18, 2008

on being an engineer motie

There's this book by Niven and Pournelle called The Mote in God's Eye, right? It's got these weird little aliens in it called Moties that have 3 arms, a population problem, and a rigid caste system determined by genetics. The moties with brown fur are the Engineers, and basically aren't too creative but can work wonders with materials on hand to build something new.

Technology for the Moties, then, is not a static deal. When something ceases to be useful, it's cannabilized for parts and used to assembling something that will be useful. There's not much aesthetic or art to what the Engineers create.. it's truly function over form. In short: Brown Moties always, always leave the cables dangling out and never, ever put the lid back on.

Being a system developer type, I'm kind of inclined towards the Brown Motie way of building things. The important things are how elegant the ORM scheme is to use, whether or not the data structures make sense, and what functionality your API gives you with the least amount of effort (and distraction) possible. Why are we quibbling about where the submit button goes or what the background color for the input box is? How on earth is getting an iTunes icon setup a bigger, more noteworthy accomplishment than integrating the authentication and authorization systems between a CMS and forum software? WTF do you mean by "version 2.0"... is this specification not already feature complete for the task at hand?

I swear, you mundanes make no sense to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

rackspace ipo is a done deal

Rackspace's first day of trading ended with shares at $10. IPO price was set at $12.50, so that's a loss of around 20% in value (and I'm pretty sure a lot lower than what the shares were valued at internally when it was still private). While I don't think it was ever reasonable to expect the value to skyrocket to $200/share (I mean, it is just webhosting after all), I think $10 is a little unfair by the market. Interland suffered the same fate during the start of the dotcom implosion... and there's no way in hell I'd ever equate the value of the two companies.

On a personal note, assuming that I'd stuck around with company, could exercise my options at the strike price I had for today's closing.... I would have made more money if I'd gotten an $5K bonus each year than from the IPO. Moral of the story: cash over stock, kidlets.

But any rate, congrats to the folks still there... enjoy the payoff :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

moar bananas pleez kthx

Biologists have discovered an estimated 125,000 gorillas belonging to a group that's currently on the endangered species list.

It's clear that these gorillas aren't endangered.... they've been amassing an ape army all along.

Mark my words... we're only 2 short steps away from Dr. Xaius and the Monkey Bunch here, folks.