Monthly Archives: March 2008

Around My Web Of Co-Workers and Ex-Co-Workers

Rajiv Pant, my former manager at Knight Ridder, shares some thoughts about the Future of Content Management for News Media for Web sites.

The apartment of Jesse, a co-worker at CIM, was robbed. He posted pictures of the culprit and thru social media like Digg got some justice: McFearsome: Blog Archive – WOW, You’re a MORON!

Anandhan Subbiah, my manager at CIM, has a post up about the horror of Seal culling.

Jon Moore discusses REST as Unix programming for the Web.

And Arpit, CIM Flash extraordinaire, celebrates his 100th post.

And congrats to Gabo on becoming UX Lead for Joost.

From the Philly Future side of things, Howard Hall’s poetry is a daily must read for me.

Albert Yee is going to have his photography highlighted this Friday.

And Scott is putting up a podcast about moving in with Marisa.

Sing A Song

The night before Mom’s funeral, we were driving around Fox Chase, making arrangements, and Emma, from her car seat, sung.

“Sing, sing a sonnnnng”

One of the many songs Richelle and me sing to her, that it would be this one that she would sing first, the night before Mom’s laying to rest, meant everything to me, and was so unexpected (we had thought it would be “Row your boat” – for reasons I’ll share sometime).

A great version by Dan Hardin

The Karen Carpenter version that is Richelle’s favorite and was a hit in the 70s

Sing
Sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad

Sing
Sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Sing
Sing a song

La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la

Sing
Sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad

Sing
Sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Sing
Sing a song

And a great Tripod page Sing.

“crippled by their own process”

Coding Horor: “Is Eeyore Designing Your Software?”:

Here’s my honest question: does open source software need all that process to be successful? Isn’t the radical lack of process baggage in open source software development not a weakness, but in fact an evolutionary advantage? What open source software lacks in formal process it makes up ten times over in ubiquity and community. In other words, if the Elbonians feel so strongly about localization, they can take that effort on themselves. Meanwhile, the developers have more time to implement features that delight the largest base of customers, instead of plowing through mountains of process for every miniscule five line code change.

Are large commercial software companies crippled by their own process?

I’d say that in large corporations, I’ve seen many internal projects beat down by the same.

The new portal architecture at CIM doesn’t suffer from this, but the old one certainly did. We’ve come a long way.

Easy target: knocking the press for the housing crisis

Dan Gillmor is right to knock the press in its coverage of the housing bubble. It didn’t do its job. But I thought we were in the age of the crowd having more information than the experts? In the age of news that bubbles up from the conversation where knowledge of something as disastrous as a oncoming financial collapse of the country would umm… be somewhat noticeable.

Beat up on the press all you want Dan. They are an easy punching bag in an age where over 60% of the public have lost confidence in them.

While I am sure we can find voices in the blogosphere that were warning us to impending troubles, as we probably can in the press, it didn’t get surfaced to wide enough audience.

The media failed certainly. And so did We the Media fail.

And it is something that must be confronted.

I am a big trumpeter of social media and how it can empower each of us to connect in ways that were impossible just a short while ago. I’m planning to share some great examples here in later posts. But as you say Dan, there’s plenty of blame to go around in this mess.

As Dave Rogers recently pointed out many tend to look to technological solutions to problems when what they are really dealing with is something different. We prescribe solutions way before we even understand the problem.

And hard enough, sometimes understanding the problem involves a hard look in our own mirrors.

Shelley Powers: “If you do it right, you get Techcrunch. If you do it wrong, there’s the ditch”

What Shelley Powers describes in the below linked piece is the current economy that encourages folks like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears to do whatever it takes to get publicity.

David Shenk’s “Data Smog” put it like this “All high-stim roads lead to Times Square”.

That’s the Web. It is nothing if not high-stim.

Folks like Michael Arrington not only have embraced where that leads, but know how to make a profit from it.

Kevin Kelly, in a piece that cuts away at the hype, describes one possible business model for artists in in “1,000 True Fans”. But he never describes how you are going to find those fans. In an attention based economy, will it force artists to involve the kind of marketing that, in the words of Dave Rogers tries to “exploit love”?

Bb’s RealTech: Shelley Powers: Stop Creating and Get a Real Job:

According to people like Michael Arrington all recorded music should be given away for free, and artists make their only income from concerts. If they can’t make their living from concerts, or busking for tossed dimes in the subway, than they should consider music to be their hobby, and get a job digging ditches.

Of course, if we apply the Arrington model to the music industry, we should be able to download all the songs we want-as long as we’re willing to sit through an ad at the beginning and in the middle of every song. Isn’t that how Techcrunch makes money? Ads in the sidebar, taking time to download, hanging up the page. Ads at the bottom of the posts we have to scroll past to get to comments? And in between, loud, cacophonous noise?

It angers me how little value people in this online environment hold the act of creativity. Oh we point to Nine Inch Nails and Cory Doctorow as examples of people who give their work away for free but still make a living. Yet NIN levies an existing fame, selling platinum packages at several hundred a pop to make up for all the freebies, and Doctorow has BoingBoing as a nice cushion for the lean years. They bring “fame” to the mix, and according to the new online business models, you have to play the game, leverage the system if you really want to make a living from your work. We don’t value the work, we value the fame, yet fame doesn’t necessarily come from any act of true creativity.

All you have to do to generate fame nowadays is be controversial enough, say enough that’s outrageous, connect up with the right people in the beginning and then kick them aside when you’re on top to be successful. You don’t have to have artistic talent, create for the ages, or even create at all-just play the game. If you do it right, you get Techcrunch. If you do it wrong, there’s the ditch.

Design Patterns Aren’t (That) Evil

I agree with much of Jeff Atwood’s writing when it comes to programming and development. I’d say on any given subject 90% to damn near 100% (congrats to him on his new adventure). But I think his post on design patterns, unfortunately, falls into a line of argument that I disagree with strongly – that *identifying* design patterns leads to complexity. Complexity because some engineers leverage them right from the get go without thinking about simplicity first. He even flags Head First Design Patterns as a potential complexity creator.

I understand the concern. Every once and a while you get into an argument with someone who is telling you your code stinks because it doesn’t employ pattern “so-and-so” and every once and a while you come across some needlessly complicated code because the developer thought pattern “xyz” was the appropriate solution and implemented it without thinking a few minutes more about the problem and putting together something far simpler.

Replace the word “pattern” in the above sentence with “technology” or “API” or “archetecture”.

Give it a try. It leads to the same place. And I’d say the problem doesn’t start with patterns (or technologies, or APIs, or whatever). It starts with the developer.

Does that developer start from a KISS viewpoint, or one enamored by buzzwords?

So Jake Says: Music and Design Patterns:

Chord progressions are design patterns. They give a common framework musicians can use to communicate. However, the implementation is left to the musician. You can play classically or bluesy. You can shred the progression. You can take the most “outside” ideas of modern atonal theory and apply them to the song. There are elegant implementations, there are common implementations, there are “outside” implementations, and there are bad implementations.

Chord changes aren’t represented in the core notation/language of the music, but you can use musical notation to spell out changes. You can also use shorthand languages to design the music. The sentence “12-bar in Bb, 2-5-1 turnaround, on my lead” gives away none of the implementation details (voicings/melodies, etc.,) yet the song is written in a breath.

Design patterns act the exact same way for programmers. They are, at heart, a common framework by which programmers can discuss a design. They can spend less time focusing on minutiae and more time discussing design and code.

Even if you are using Python or Perl and you don’t have to explicitly define an Iterator to loop through arbitrary collections, you could easily point to a “for x in y” statement and say “iterate through y” to describe part of an algorithm. You will be correct, and a coder from any paradigm won’t have to give it two thoughts.

Design patterns always exist, but are sometimes invisible.

Happy Easter

Emma is waking up at her grandparents right now and Richelle and me are just getting out of bed, making calls, and getting ready for the day. It’s a tradition we started last year, that I’m looking forward to as the years come.

Easter is a weird holiday, in that, as the article from Slate states below, has resisted commercialization and has retained much of its religious meaning. Having grown up in a house without organized worship of any kind, I don’t have many memories of Easter eggs or baskets. In fact, my fondest memory of Easter is one of recent years – that of my mom, calling me the night before from the nursing home, reminding me to bring her a chocolate egg.

That egg was important to her. To her, a Catholic who had doubts about the faith’s practices, Easter had to do with family and new beginnings.

I think the tradition we are setting up with Emma, with Richelle’s parents, is very much in keeping with that.

The events in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, point you in that direction, thinking about renewal, and what it means for your faith – for your life.

Every year I kick myself at not getting back in the habit of going to church. A habit I had only a short while as an adult that ended when Hunter, my nephew, died immediately after my confession on Saturday, September 15th 2001. A few days after 9/11.

For so many, they find solace in religion during times like that. I wish I could be like that. My instinctual reaction was the opposite.

As I get older, I am starting to realize that doubt, reason and faith are not necessarily at odds. That it is we human beings that demand straight lines and simple rules to dictate our universe and paradoxes upset our world so mightily that it can be hard to face the day when any light is shone on them.

tonypierce + happy easter:

today is one of the most holy days for Christians around the world.
today is the day that the Christian messiah, Jesus, came down from Heaven
and walked around and said, see, told ya I’m God.
everyone pretty much freaked out.

funny thing about Christians, they basically run the world
yet when it comes to their holiest days they act ashamed.
instead of wearing t-shirts that say Jesus
or putting a nice picture of Jesus on their door
or a nice poster of Jesus in their window
and say, Right On, Jesus,
they buy candy and paint eggs and hide them
and wear hats and have brunch
just like they’ve never even heard of Jesus
and dont marvel at what he did for them.

they act like dirty heathens, basically.

…the good book says that it’s not
the things that go in our mouths
that we should worry about
it’s the things that come out
of our mouths
that matter.

…get yourself in situations
where you get to say some badass shit

Slate: Happy Crossmas!:

Despite the awesome theological implications (Christians believe that the infant lying in the manger is the son of God), the Christmas story is easily reduced to pablum. How pleasant it is in mid-December to open a Christmas card with a pretty picture of Mary and Joseph gazing beatifically at their son, with the shepherds and the angels beaming in delight. The Christmas story, with its friendly resonances of marriage, family, babies, animals, angels, and—thanks to the wise men—gifts, is eminently marketable to popular culture. It’s a Thomas Kinkade painting come to life.

On the other hand, a card bearing the image of a near-naked man being stripped, beaten, tortured, and nailed through his hands and feet onto a wooden crucifix is a markedly less pleasant piece of mail.

The Easter story is relentlessly disconcerting and, in a way, is the antithesis of the Christmas story. No matter how much you try to water down its particulars, Easter retains some of the shock it had for those who first participated in the events during the first century. The man who spent the final three years of his life preaching a message of love and forgiveness (and, along the way, healing the sick and raising the dead) is betrayed by one of his closest friends, turned over to the representatives of a brutal occupying power, and is tortured, mocked, and executed in the manner that Rome reserved for the worst of its criminals.

We may even sense resonances with some painful political issues still before us. Jesus of Nazareth was not only physically brutalized but also casually humiliated during his torture, echoing the abuses at Abu Ghraib. In 21st-century Iraq, some American soldiers posed prisoners with women’s underwear on their heads as a way of scorning their manhood. In first-century Palestine, some Roman soldiers pressed down a crown of thorns onto Jesus’ head and clothed him in a purple robe to scorn the kingship his followers claimed for him. After this, Jesus suffered the most degrading of all Roman deaths: crucifixion. Jesus remains the world’s most famous victim of capital punishment.

To his followers, therefore, his execution was not only tragic and terrifying but shameful. It is difficult not to wonder what the Apostles would have thought of a crucifix as a fashion accessory. Imagine wearing an image of a hooded Abu Ghraib victim around your neck as holiday bling.

slacktivist: Practice resurrection

Hope you had a great St. Patrick’s Day

Even though you wouldn’t know it by my name – I’m Irish. It’s something I was was dimly aware of as a teenager, and something I’ve come to embrace as I’ve gotten older and realized my last name isn’t that of my biological father.

So what is St. Patrick’s Day? According to my friend Ron and a link he posted, something mighty bad. According to David Plotz at Slate, something to take pause of and be thankful for.

Me? The lack of cultural upbringing I had leads me to think of something far more recent – the North Ireland peace process and the hope it brings for the world. Differences that seem intractable and unbridgeable can be met. And not always does it need to lead to blood.

And yeah, I’ll have a drink to that.