Software Development

If You Followed This Blog for My SD Posts…

…I’ve moved all my software-development posts over to my new software-development blog, where I’m currently in the midst of a series chronicling my evaluation of Perl 6.

At least since the mid 2000′s, when I wrote about software, I tried to keep it popular, non-techie, or at least about the culture rather than the coding. On my new SD blog, I am no longer afraid to use lots of code snippets. And I’ve taken to publishing sample code on GitHub.

Why the change? Am I going back to software development? Yes, I think so. I haven’t given up writing. But I’ve updated my resume. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everything and everyone and everyplace in software is like this:

On the other hand, I’m trying to avoid getting caught in a workplace like this again. For a creative type like me, who depends so heavily on innovation, on constant improvement, on challenging the status quo for the better. Working with others who do not share that passion, it can be positively demoralizing.

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State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 5)


Photo © 2011 Giuseppe Savo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This is part 5 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 4)


“I want to believe.”
Photo © 2008 Sunny Ripert CC BY-SA 2.0

This is part 4 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 3)

This is part 3 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)

  • I love achieving status through collaboration, which is compassionate conflict. I am not a baboon. I do not achieve a sense of status by beating up (literally or figuratively) on my colleagues and friends. But I do expect to be recognized for the ideas I bring to the table, and I want to be taken seriously.

The early Mac development oozed this sort of idea culture. It had to: it was originally a research project. And so you had a bunch of smart, creative people getting together to accomplish the formerly inconceivable. For example, when Andy displayed the very first image on the very first Mac display:  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 2)

This is part 2 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

Remember 5¼″ floppy disks? And full-height floppy drives? Photo © 2010 Rostislav Lisovy CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Remember 5¼″ floppy disks? And full-height floppy drives?
Photo © 2010 Rostislav Lisovy CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” Ha!  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore

1984 Macintosh © 2011 Steve Garfield CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

1984 Macintosh
© 2011 Steve Garfield CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A couple weeks ago, I was reading through Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes at FolkLore.org, about how he and his colleagues developed the original Macintosh. These stories brought me back, first to nostalgic times, then to a nostalgic purpose. I remembered all the reasons I first fell in love with software development, many of which are also true of my writing, and I finally understood what I would need in order to rediscover that lost love.

(He’s also collected these stories in paperback: Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made.)

The Macintosh was originally a tiny research project tucked away in a corner of Apple, still riding off the success of the Apple II home computer. The project was always up for being canceled, but the people working on it believed in it, and believed that it would change the world. They were bringing features years ahead of their time to a “low end,” common man’s computer, inventing new technology in the process.

I started a list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before.  Click to continue »

Bits & Pieces 2012-10-04

Links and things that I’ve run across recently.

When a Cat Takes Over Your Life

I apologize for being absent this week. We’ve had a small family drama… involving our cat.

If you subscribe to my Facebook profile, you know that Tessie-cat got sick and then started acting seriously weird. As I’ve mentioned before, Tessie is old, quite old, almost 19 years old. On top of that, we’ve been behind in her vet appointments (as well as our dental appointments). So we kinda freaked out.

Two vet visits and $440 later— Didn’t see that coming. We’ve discovered that her kidneys are beginning to fail, a common dysfunction in geriatric cats. This explains all of her symptoms, but it means she’s now on a special diet. And we get to start that diet off by injecting her with fluid twice a day for a week and a half, which she doesn’t seem to be enjoying too much. (I think the experience traumatizes me more than it does her, though.)

I do have a post in the incubator about old friends and how short life is. That post is near the top of my list. I hope to publish it next week.

… and SQL Stuff

 Click to continue »

Bits and Pieces 2012-07-12

Links and things that I’ve run across recently.

Are You a Twitter Bot?

I ran across this site while searching for statistics on Twitter bots: BotOrNot.net will take a Twitter username and predict, based on that user’s public timeline, whether he’s a bot or a human.

As it turns out, I’m a human—Phew! And so is Neil Shurley (ThatNeilGuy), of the blog This Week in World Robot Domination, so that’s comforting news. (I’d hate to think he was actually a saboteur whose raison d’être is to plant pro-robot agitprop into our resistance efforts!)

However, my fellow author Missy Frye is apparently a bot! Oy! As are Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble. Hmm.

So I’m beginning to doubt the statistic that 31% of Twitter users are “probably bot.” (However, 15% may be bots.)

Dominos, Dominos, Dominos

You may have heard of FlippyCat and his thousands and thousands of colored dominos. I had not, until one of my friends shared this video of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” made with over 7,000 dominos. The second attempt took about 11 hours total to build.

Browsing through his other videos, I think his Angry Birds one is my favorite. Compared to all the versions of the game that Roxio has published, this is the best one ever! (Be sure to watch the “extras” video, too, to see how they did it.)

 Click to continue »

Depression and the Software Developer: Smiling in the Piss Pot


Happy Smiley Face from Urine Samples
Photo © 2011 epSos.de CC BY 2.0
Click here for original image.

Developing software is supposed to be one of the best jobs available, because it uses creativity, and it requires professional independence. And those software jobs are out there. But some of us are not currently working one of those jobs.

In early 2009, I wrote a post entitled “7 Best Things About Being a Consulting Software Developer.” In that post, I talked about how the world does not end just because I had one really, really bad job (or a whole string of them, as the case was). I should have listened to myself. That project I talked about in that post was the NOKWID project, which I told about in the previous part of this series. (So named because No One Knew What It Did.) This is the project that threw me into a deep depression, a hopeless depression, the straw that broke this camel’s back, which no amount of positive thinking could make up for.  Click to continue »

Software Development: a Love-Hate Relationship


Photo © 2011 Dennis Skley CC BY-ND 2.0
Click here for the original photo.

I wasn’t intending to post anything today. As I promised yesterday, I wrote this morning until 9 AM, but not a post on this blog. (Instead, I made progress on a longer piece for my Ardor Point site.)

And then I caught up on a comment thread between Darryl (whom I don’t think I know) and David (whom I do know, in real life), comments on a post about what’s wrong with the software industry.

And I began writing a short follow-up to their comments. And I discovered that I had used up over an hour, and it was turning into a 500-word post of its own– I so miss writing! But I also am discovering that I still love software development, when it’s done right.

Ironically, I’ve been absent from this blog for the past few months because I’ve been working feverishly on a contract software project, with a long-time friend and colleague.  Click to continue »

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