the forty-second parallel

The Questioners

Peter-Paul Kock:

[T]he IE6 era forced us to think about what we web developers really wanted. We had to define and defend every single feature we requested … and set priorities.

Two links hardly prove a thing, and there are plenty of people who disagree. But there’s been a recent trend questioning the web we’ve created (c.f. The Verge’s Web Sucks) and I tend to side with the questioners.

Posted on July 28th, 2015 | Software, Technology

Software Treadmill

Maciej Cegłowski:

Rather than offer users persuasive reasons to upgrade software, vendors insist we look on upgrading as our moral duty. The idea that something might work fine the way it is has no place in tech culture.

From his talk, “Web Design: The First 100 Years” – an insightful take on how the tyranny of the new has shaped web and tech culture.

Posted on July 21st, 2015 | Software, Technology

Saying No to Sales

Zach Holman:

But everything you add to your product dilutes everything else. It becomes harder to use. It becomes more expensive to support. And chasing individual features and one-off fixes can unfortunately shield you from coming up with even simpler approaches that solve this problem and seven others at the same time.

That’s not to say you should ignore customer feedback, or ignore your sales channel, or anything of the sort. It just means you deeply consider every little product change you make. It means you only make these changes if it aligns with your goal and will make your users happier in the long-term. It means you’re proactive rather than reactive.

Posted on May 23rd, 2015 | Software

The gods in Our Pocket

John Dyer

But information, music, and coffee are not the trade of the church. Ours is truth, worship, and communion which together offer us not a product we can download and consume with diminishing return, but an inexhausible encounter with a living being, the risen Christ.

Posted on May 21st, 2015 | Culture, Jesus, Technology

Data Dominates

Rule #5:

Data dominates. If you’ve chosen the right data structures and organized things well, the algorithms will almost always be self-evident. Data structures, not algorithms, are central to programming.

From Rob Pike’s 5 Rules of Programming.

Posted on April 20th, 2015 | Software

By Means of Comical Witticism

Mr. Einstein, writing to the highly esteemed Mrs. Curie:

P.S. I have determined the statistical law of motion of the diatomic molecule in Planck’s radiation field by means of a comical witticism, naturally under the constraint that the structure’s motion follows the laws of standard mechanics. My hope that this law is valid in reality is very small, though.

Posted on April 18th, 2015 | Life in General

Ideas to Artifacts

From Eugene Ferguson’s Engineering and the Mind’s Eye:

The conversion of an idea to an artifact, which engages both the designer and the maker, is a complex and subtle process that will always be far closer to art than to science.

Quoted by Glenn Vanderburg in his great talk on why software development is an engineering discipline.

Posted on March 24th, 2015 | Software, Work


Landon Noss:

Unless you’ve written a buggy program, you don’t realize that you’re addressing our intellect. This is why I think that every engineer on the planet looks at a bug report and feels a twinge of pain as they read whatever detail that was left to serve as a figurative shame sticker on the report card of their creation. It really sucks when you’re just flat out wrong.

Being wrong — rather, being incorrect — is an extremely humbling experience. The catastrophically incorrect, which is when software crashes, money is lost, or the absolute worst, data is stolen, is the kind of thing that makes you question your career choice. It makes you want to curl up into a ball and weep at how completely stupid you were when you’ve found the problem

Posted on March 24th, 2015 | Work

Book Log

I have the hardest time remembering what I’ve read and when I’ve read it. I’ve started several books over the past few months, but here are the ones I’ve enjoyed enough to finish:

Posted on February 28th, 2015 | Books, Life in General

The Programmer’s Dream

Nick Bradbury

Like our software, our society just kind of happened over the years and it’s always on the verge of coming tumbling down. Nobody really knows what they’re doing or what they’re talking about.

Posted on December 17th, 2014 | Culture, Technology