Archive for October, 2005

All Your Google Base … Aww, Forget It

October 25, 2005

Google Base is coming soon, apparently. From the screenshot, it seems like some sort of Craigslist knock-off. It makes a lot of sense, but I mostly can’t wait to see how they implement it. Will it be generalizable to non-items? To more general information storage and retrieval? Let’s wait and see! {via}

[UPDATE: In a completely unprecedented move, Google has publicly commented on this—even if rather obliquely. I’m not sure what to make of that. From the Google Blogoscoped entry, it sounds a lot more robust than a comparison with Google Sitemaps would warrant.]

Talk This Way

October 23, 2005

I don’t normally do those inane profile-type quizzes, but the regional differences in American English has always been an interest of mine. So I took it and discovered that I am “80% General American English, 10% Upper Midwestern, and 10% Yankee.” This is definitely not accurate because there were a couple of questions where I used two of the options though there wasn’t an option for that. For example, I grew up saying “carmel” but I’ve since taken to calling it “care-a-mel” because that’s how the word is spelled for crying out loud. Also, I use “pop” and “soda” pretty interchangeably as I do “puh-jawm-uhs” and “puh-jam-uhs.” I picked the one that sprang to mind quickest since that’s probably what I’d call it in a pinch, but it left me a little unsatisfied. {via}

Wonderfalls

October 21, 2005

I just finished watching the last episode of the TV show, Wonderfalls, which has been playing on LOGO for quite some time now. I’ve been completely enamored of the show ever since I discovered it airing, but I didn’t want to write up anything until I had seen the entire run. You know, some shows peter out after awhile and I didn’t want to sing its praises prematurely. Since it was cancelled by Fox after 13 episodes, I didn’t have to wait too long to contribute my paean.

Now that I’ve seen the whole thing, I’d like to sing its praises. Loud and to everyone. This show is simply the best show I’ve ever come across. Bar none. There you go.

Okay, there’s some people that aren’t going to cotton to such a bold statement. What about Firefly, what about Star Trek: The Next Generation, what about Get a Life!, and so on. All good shows; heck, all great shows. But one shows got to be the best and I think you couldn’t go wrong with Wonderfalls.

Now that I have your attention, allow me to attempt to explain its plot. The show centers around Jaye Tyler, played adroitly by Caroline Dhavernas, a twenty-something who works at a Niagra Falls gift shop as a cashier and lives in a trailer park. She’s got a philosophy degree from Brown, but she’s something of a slacker. Everything’s nice and boring, which she wants, until one day a deformed wax lion from one of those machines present at nearly all tourist traps tells her to return a quarter that a lady dropped. She complies—after questioning her sanity—and a chain of events takes place as a result of her action. This convinces her that something odd is afoot.

After being commanded to do several more things by other inanimate animal figures, she starts to believe she’s going crazy. Each thing she does at their behest ends up being exciting and unexpected. She tries to resist their urging at one point but relents after they drone a stereophonic version of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” She gives up any resistance after that and rarely questions the wisdom of their requests throughout the series.

There’s a variety of subplots that play out over the course of the series, but I couldn’t possibly do them justice. Suffice it to say that they do not detract one bit from the main plot line, which is artfully developed across the entire set of 13 episodes. The theme, if I had to pin it down, is that you should accept your destiny because it might lead you to something worthwhile that you’d never considered before. Okay, that’s a horrible theme—on account of there being no destiny—but it’s very well developed and presented. One could probably also make a convincing case that the animals’ talking is actually Jaye’s subconscious but that could just be reading into things.

The most amazing aspect of the show is the character development. There’s seven main characters and several regular ones. As the show progresses, you can really identify and empathize with the characters. In fact, I found myself predicting what a given character might do or how he might react to a situation. Further, their personalities are very nuanced and complex: Jaye and Eric, her romantic interest, for example, are individually complex and their relationship is fascinating to watch grow. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never encountered a show that had such a rich story and backstory.

It’s a shame that Fox cancelled the show when it did but I’m glad that I was able to see it this way instead of being restricted to the four episodes that they actually ran out of order. I would heartily recommend this show to anyone that likes intelligent comedy and interesting psychologies.

[UPDATE (1/17/2006): I just finished watching the entire series again—I bought the DVD set for Christmas—and I now think it’s even better than I remember. Watching a series sequentially instead of disjointedly allows one to appreciate the character development much better. Watching episodes with subtitles allows one to catch the very subtle and witty dialogue. My next viewing will be with commentary so I can get the full Wonderfalls experience. Sadly, I don’t see this coming to the big screen à la Firefly.]

Article Roundup

October 21, 2005

Here’s some excellent articles and blog entries I’ve been collecting:

  • “Complete” and “Freeze” Aren’t: an elaboration of the problems with “functional milestones.”
  • People Who Lower Productivity: I am still struggling to understand the situation at my previous employer that prompted me to leave for Go Daddy. Understand that I think it was the best move I’ve ever made and have absolutely zero regrets, but I don’t like leaving lingering question marks over episodes in my life. I’m still not sure that this fully explains the person in question, but it’s getting me closer.
  • “Why Software Sucks”: I loved Scott Berkun’s writing when he was usability guy at Microsoft but he’s really come into his own as an author writing about project management.
  • Set Your Priorities: I’m not a big fan of the democratic approach to feature planning. I believe, like the big man himself, that you should primarily decide your own feature set. Taking polls and focus groups doesn’t work because most people don’t know that they want or need a feature until it’s in front of them. There are people, to be sure, that have ideas of their own but they’re hard to find. In fact, I’ve never seen them in the wild and I’m starting to believe that their description falls within cryptozoology. Joel’s exercise is definitely another approach to feature planning, but I’m not sure that I like it’s much better. Not everyone that would be involved is vested in the company’s long-term strategic interests, comprehends the market, or is visionary and imaginative. It’s a fact of life. I’m not saying that the decision-makers that normally do such things are any of the above but there’s a better chance that they are.
  • Baby Steps to Synergistic Web Apps: some thoughts about truly taking web applications to the next level—a cliche that I abhor though its utility is clearly why it’s become shopworn. The author suggests that we need a Web equivalent to interapplication communication akin to the operating system’s clipboard model. I think Flock is a start to this, but I’m pretty sure that I don’t want the interoperation to occur at the browser level.
  • Startup School: lots of notes on the Web about this conference: here, here, here

Too Late By Four

October 20, 2005

So I’ve long said that I’m not going to buy another Macintosh until they went quad processor. It seemed to me that if they could have two CPUs they have could have four. Why wouldn’t I wait for some monster of a machine before plunking down the Mac premium?

They finally make one, but it’s on a CPU that they’ve publicly deprecated. Oh sure, it’ll be around forever and blah, blah, blah. As someone who bought a 68040-based Mac a month before Apple unveiled the PowerPC chip, I’m not going to be relegated to the Mac ghetto again. Once the Intel-based CPUs exist across the line, the formerly slavered-over G5s will be like the G4s were when the G5 was announced.

The other major objection, that four cores is four cores, forgets that Apple can’t take a step back performance-wise when they move the platform. The bar has been set and anything in the future will have to be a step up. Since I am not currently hurting for a new computer, I can wait. Nay, I must wait.

Wait and See

October 20, 2005

One of the best things about this new blog product is that we had the second mover’s advantage. By that I mean that we could learn from the earlier competitors and make decisions informed by their experiences, not that we aped the competition.

Having been a consumer of blogging technologies for years and years, it was incredible working on the blogging engine I’ve always wanted. It’s not exactly as I had envisioned—compromises must be made and sometimes, *gasp*, my vision was wrong—but it’s very, very close. The best part was getting to work on technologies that I previously had only been a consumer of; the feed wars, for example, were never fully real to me because I had always just used the provided templates.

[NOTE: The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Go Daddy Software, Inc.]

Waiting to Move

October 19, 2005

Suffice it to say, I will be moving this blog over to the new product as soon as it’s publicly available (well, maybe a little bit before that 😉 instead of Textpattern as I had planned.

Running with the Big Blogs

October 19, 2005

I’m happy to say that I can finally discuss what I’ve been working on for these last four months. Bob Parsons, my employer, spilled the beans on his blog in a comment. The Go Daddy Personal Website and Weblog Guidelines state that I cannot “disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company or to any third party that has a relationship with the company.” That means I can confirm its existence though I can’t go into any further details.

[NOTE: The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Go Daddy Software, Inc.]

Yoda Programming

October 11, 2005

This blog entry by Matt Warren on the next version of C# after 3.0 had better be a joke. I just flashed back to Applescript reading the example.

Buzzword Compliant

October 8, 2005

Marchitecture: ooo, I love this term for an “architecture produced for marketing reasons, normally by a vendor.” At my last job, this would have been so useful.