Meet the “Crying Girl” con artist of Davis, California

BoingBoing has posted a story about the “epic” tale of some scam artist girl out in California.

Meet the “Crying Girl” con artist of Davis, California has earned a spot on the Davis Wiki, with photos tracked down by the Wiki’s users.

Meet the “Crying Girl” con artist of Davis, California

I don’t know anything about Davis, California, but I don’t imagine it’s a big city. Well, maybe the Davis residents should visit Los Angeles more often. I can tell you that in New York City, we have no shortage of people pulling identical scams every single day.

There are the guys who offer to give you a CD of their music for free, but then they offer to sign it and ask for a “donation.” There are people who rent Sesame Street costumes and roam the streets taking pictures with kids and asking for “donations.” They are not associated with Sesame Street in any official capacity. Oh, and that’s just some of what you see on the corner directly outside my office without even walking one block or crossing the street. The old story of “I need bus/train fare” is as common as a vuvuzela at a South African football match.

Look how much effort has been put into making  wiki page investigating this one person. There really must be nothing better to do out in Davis, Hey, if you guys like investigating street scams, come on over. The NYPD is hiring.

I have a new headline for this article. Tell me if you like it. “Every day occurrence in New York City is headline news in suburb.” People wonder why us city folk have an attitude like the one I am presently putting on display. This is why. You country folk are extremely provincial. Get with the times.

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How Not to Fix Soccer

Every four years when the fans of the USA actually watches soccer, they complain about the rules. I am guilty of this as well. I know that my knowledge of the game is very shallow compared to people who have watched it their entire lives, but I still believe that the game has problems that need fixing.

Ed Felten also sees this, and he provides an explanation of why the rules of soccer are the way they are.

So here’s the logic underlying soccer’s rules: the game is supposed to scale down, so that an ordinary youth or recreation-league game can be played under the exact same rules used by the pros. This means that the rules must be designed so that the game can be run by a single referee, without any special equipment such as a scoreboard.

How Not To Fix Soccer

As I have already admitted, my knowledge of the game is very shallow, so while I may be able to recognize that there is something broken in the game, I know I am not highly qualified to make a specific suggestion to fix it. However, I am qualified to say that this excuse of keeping the game scalable is a very poor excuse for keeping broken rules.

Yes, let’s have the winner of the World Cup be decided based on a bad call by a ref because if we change the rules, then kids will not be able to play by the same rules as the pros. Seriously? That’s your reason to keep the rules broken?

First of all, kids are not playing soccer by the same rules as the pros. They have smaller fields and smaller nets. They don’t have offsides judges. They use different balls. Some don’t play for the same 90 minutes, or have the same limitations on substitutions. Already the argument falls apart.

Also, do you think it really matters to kids that they are playing the same exact game? I mean, I guess it’s kind of cool when you’re a kid to think that you are playing just like the grown ups. Still, it hasn’t been a problem for little league. Kids aren’t complaining that the game is six innings instead of nine. College football players aren’t complaining that they don’t have identical rules to the NFL. College basketball players don’t care that it’s not exactly the same as the NBA. So what makes this a good reason we should allow this most important sporting event to be ruined by bad rules or bad officiating?

When it comes to professional sports the stakes are very high. There is a lot of money at stake. There are the emotions of millions of people which will change according to the result. There are many thousands of ticket holders who paid money to see a game, and if there is a flaw in that game, they have effectively purchased a defective product. If FIFA were selling defective widgets instead of soccer games, they’d be dishing out a ton of refunds.

With amateurs playing, the stakes are low. If the rules are broken, or adjusted, it’s not really a big deal. The players don’t really care all that much. If they do, it’s not a big deal. If a team loses the World Cup because of a bad rule, then that’s a huge fucking deal.

From my perspective there are three obviously broken things in soccer. One is the off sides rule. The second is bad officiating. The third is timing. I can tell you why the off sides rule is broken, but I don’t have a fix for it. The other two rules I do have fixes for, and you don’t need to be a soccer scholar to see why.

The off sides rule exists in many sports. The one I am most familiar with is ice hockey. The purpose of this rule is to prevent camping. Without an off sides rule, an offensive player can just stay right next to the opponent’s goal. Then they can receive a long pass from all the way across the field of play, and score. That makes a game quite boring and easy. You want to force players to skillfully play the ball or puck down the field, instead of just making one big pass.

The off sides rule in soccer does prevent this from happening, but unlike hockey, it also has false positives. Say I am five yards from the goal. I pass to another player on my team who is three yards from the goal. It is possible in this circumstance we will be called off sides, and not be able to score. We marched the ball down the field legitimately all the way to the goal, but we’re still off sides. How can that possibly be a good rule? I have some ideas for fixes to this problem, but they are all flawed. Still, I am confident that a better rule can be made, even if a perfect one can not. Maybe a pass between players both in the penalty area can not be called offsides? I don’t know.

The second major problem in soccer is bad or inconsistent officiating. Everyone can plainly see that some referees in the World Cup throw out yellow, or even red, cards as if it were going out of style. Other referees hardly ever show the card, for similar offenses. The obvious solution is to have replay with one set of judges for all games. The NHL has people at NHL HQ watching replays of all games. A referee can call them if necessary to get the official, consistent, ruling from the highest authority.

This is something that applies to all professional sports. There is no reason no to replay absolutely everything that needs replaying. That’s not to say you should replay every single moment of every game. Then games will be slow and take forever. You should replay any play that has a significant consequence, or has anything that is questionable or debated in any way. The replay can be done very quickly if there is someone in a video booth with access to every camera angle. They watch the entire game, and can replay any part. They should be able to make a decision as quickly as fans watching replays at home make the decision, if not sooner. Every sport should have this, no excuses.

For soccer, replay would contribute to an already existing problem. That problem is timing. The game consists of two halves of 45 minutes each. Unlike other sports, the clock never stops. The result is that the actual time of play is very loose. The referee arbitrarily adds a few minutes to the end of each half to make up for it, but it is far from precise. In any sport, even one second can make all the difference in the world. It can make even more different in a low scoring game like soccer. There is no excuse not to have precise timing in a professional league.

Look at a sport like Formula 1. They have timing systems that are precise down to thousandths of a second. Yes, it is a sport in which time is far more important, but the point is that the technology exists. I’m not saying the clock should stop in soccer. I’m saying that we could easily develop a timing system which calculates how much time should be added to the end of each half that is precise to the second. It could even continue to add seconds to the end of the half if any stoppages occur during the additional time. Therefore every half of every game will consist of exactly 45 minutes of actual play.

When it comes to sports, too many people are purists. They have sentimental value attached to the rules. They don’t want change of any kind. They want every sport to be played the way it was a century ago. The fact is that over a century, we have made huge advances in athletic training and sport strategy. We’ve beaten all of our games. The only way for these games to remain fair and entertaining is to modify the games such that they are still competitive in an era when they are, effectively, played by supermen. We need to make all sports far more difficult, and have consistent rules enforcement.

People are always wondering why the citizens of the US never become big fans of soccer. Perhaps part of it is because sports fans here are used to the NFL. The same NFL which gladly changes its rules and makes extensive use of replay. We have a strong sense of justice and fairness in the US. The imprecision of soccer is definitely one reason, among many, why the sport can not gain traction here.

The most famous moments in sports in the US are almost always amazing plays, great feats of strength and dexterity. The miraculous escape and catch in Super Bowl 42 is a recent example. The most famous moment in soccer, that even a US citizen like me is aware of, is a bad call. The hand of god. How appropriate.

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Nintendo “Not Satisfied” With its Online Efforts

According to Kotaku, Nintendo is not satisfied with their current offline offerings. They realize that Microsoft, and even Sony, are destroying them in terms of online play. Nintendo effectively has none.

“And I can say that we are not currently satisfied with the online efforts that we have made so far, and we are working at ways to improve those. On the other hand, I do not think that online functionality is something that we should be devoting resources to for every single product.”

Nintendo “Not Satisfied” With it Online Efforts

Wait, what’s this extra bit about not doing it on every single project? On the XBox every single game has some sort of XBox live functionality. They might not all have the full-blown online play like Super Street Fighter IV or Halo, but they’ll at least let you compare high scores with friends. The Kotaku editor also questions how Nintendo can possibly have limited resources.

So Nintendo is not satisfied with its online efforts, but does not think online functionality is something it should be devoting resources to for every single product? Can’t we have both? Isn’t Nintendo one of the most successful companies in not only Japan, but the world? Limited resources? Bwah?!

It is absolutely true that Nintendo’s online offerings suck ass. If they want them to stop sucking, they have to do two things. First, they have to give up on the friend code system. I know they are trying to protect all the children playing Pokemon from pervs, but it’s time to give up. It’s not a fight they can win. If they don’t open up the system, they might as well not have it at all. If they do open it up, the amazing online games will make them more than enough money to outweigh the bad press about child predators. A Pokemon MMO is probably the only thing that can threaten World of Warcraft and Farmville.

That being said, the Kotaku editor clearly doesn’t understand Nintendo very well. He’s surprised that Nintendo is claiming to have limited resources. Of course Nintendo has limited resources. The three limited resources they have are talent, time, and money. They have big talents, but they don’t have them in huge quantity. That’s why the quantity of games they put out is so low, and releases are infrequent. By limiting budgets for their titles, they insure the high profit margins continue.

Think about it. A blockbuster game like Modern Warfare sells millions of copies, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars. However, it also costs many millions of dollars to produce. Meanwhile a game like New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Pokemon costs far less to produce, and also sells millions of copies. If Nintendo didn’t act like their resources were limited, and included every feature possible on every game, their production costs would shoot through the roof, and their profit margins would go down in the basement.

And be honest here. How much do you think adding online play to New Super Mario Bros. Wii would cost in terms of production? It would take a lot of time to code around problems like lag, so that the quality of the online play was up to Nintendo standards. Those programmers could have been working on some other game instead. How many extra sales would adding online play have gotten them? They calculated that it wouldn’t be worth it, and they’re probably right.

Yes, Nintendo’s online play sucks, and that hurts gamers. Yet, like everything else Nintendo does, it’s all about the money. They are laughing all the way to the bank every single time. You know you’re still going to buy that new Zelda game, Metroid: Other M, and they know it as well. They’re going to do the bare minimum necessary to make sure it happens, and move on. If online play isn’t part of that bare minimum, you’re not going to get it.

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Is Google far too much in love with engineering?

Chris over at Cnet discusses the fact that almost every single employee at Google is an engineer, and whether or not that is entirely a good thing.

It’s nice if a pilot has a background in flying. It’s really quite special if a colonoscopist has a background in medicine. But does everyone who heads up a department at Google really need to have a background in engineering?

Is Google far too much in love with engineering?

If you’re not aware of the phenomenon of reactionary extremism, you obviously don’t read anything on the web. When people see a problem with something, their brains somehow create a false dichotomy. There’s a problem with copyright law, therefore all intellectual property law is bad. Capitalism is causing some badness here, therefore socialism is perfect and the best!

Google has almost definitely fallen victim to this fallacy. I know that almost every developer has experienced the pain of having to obey poor decisions from managers who do not understand technology. They make bad decisions based entirely on money or gut feelings, or other factors, and it infuriates the engineer. Google was started by engineers, so this situation angers them more than anything else. Their highest priority is to make sure it never happens.

Is this really a problem? Not if you’re a Google employee. If you’re a Google employee, you’re likely an engineer. Therefore you also know the frustration of managers who know nothing about technology poor decisions making engineers miserable. You are glad that you are shielded from them. You are glad that even if a decision doesn’t go your way, it was because someone had numbers, and there is some evidence behind the decision.

The problem is that by having only engineers, Google has some extreme weaknesses. There are two major ones that I think stand out above all others.

The first is user interface design. Sure, Google does a lot better than many, but not good enough by far. Android and Google Wave have some of the worst user interfaces imaginable. Google apps are sort of ok-ish. Chrome is alright. Nothing amazing. They have effectively unlimited money. They can design a new datacenter out of shipping containers that is crazily energy efficient. Why can’t they hire a decent UI person? Oh, wait, they just did. We’ll see if they actually listen to him, or if engineers decisions override him. Even so, it’s just one person, and it’s way too late in the game.

The second major problem is that they don’t finish or integrate any of their products. Google Voice is the greatest example of this. Once a person comprehends the idea of Google Voice, they immediately and desperately want it. The problem is that you can’t transfer your old number to it. It also doesn’t “just work.” Even on Android phones with Google’s logo printed on the phone itself, Google Voice does not integrate seamlessly and perfectly 100% of the time. They have so much money, and Google Voice has been out for so long. They should be able to put the polish on it.

I know, as a developer, that the old saying about the final 10% of the work taking 90% of the time is absolutely true. The last part is always the hard part. Google is full of engineers, so they know that rule as well as anybody. It seems to me that they all know this, and they all collude so that nobody ever has to actually do that hard work which is so unpleasant for engineers. They just keep doing the 90% of the work that takes 10% of the time. It’s truly an engineer’s paradise.

The result is that Google has a ton of projects. There are hundreds and hundreds of Google things that they have created or purchased. Which ones have actually made it big besides search, ads, mail, chat, analytics, docs. Other than search and ads, even things like docs is a drop in the bucket in terms of popularity. YouTube was popular before they bought it, so that doesn’t count. They have lots of projects, and almost no completed ones. It’s because they’re all engineers doing what engineers want to do. They need a non-engineering business person to crack the whip and make them do the work they don’t want to do. The work they don’t want to do is the work that will actually put them ahead of the competition.

Even if they realize this, there is another problem. They don’t need to care. They make so much freaking money just from search and ads, why do they care if a project like Voice is half-baked? It only hurts users. Users aren’t engineers who work at Google, so who cares if they suffer? They don’t even need to give them the courtesy of a phone number to call for support, because those non-engineers can’t possibly have anything valuable to say.

Google, hire some UI people, and do what they say, even if you don’t like what they have to say. They know better than you. Secondly, stop making new stuff. Finish the things you have. You might not think it’s worth it to invest more work into something that isn’t a hit. Well, nothing you make is going to be a hit unless you’ve worked out every last kink.

Obviously problems arise when non-engineers make decisions related to engineering. Google has clearly solved that problem, and it gives them an advantage. However, when you have engineers making decisions about law, art, or anything else that isn’t engineering, the same principle applies. Perhaps it is just the anti-social nature of engineers that prevents Googlers from working well with other disciplines. They better make some friends, and soon.

Posted in Technology | Tagged | 2 Comments

Why Johnny can’t code

I saw a post on which reiterates something I feel strongly about, and have been saying for quite some time.

BASIC used to be on every computer a child touched — but today there’s no easy way for kids to get hooked on programming.

Why Johnny can’t code

Yes, absolutely yes. If you bought any PC prior to the Mac and DOS era, it came with programming built in. It was most likely BASIC, or some similar language. You turn on an Apple 2, Commodore, or Atari computer, and you can immediately start typing in a program that will execute.

If you want to get even close to this on a modern computer, you need to either use a much bigger and more serious language, like Python, or you need some piece of software to help you. It’s not built into the computer. Even if you install Linux, the only thing you can do on the terminal is shell scripting. That shell scripting creates a barrier between the user and other programming languages.

Every operating system should ship with some sort of BASIC-like interpreter. It wouldn’t have any significant additional cost. Just one more icon in the start menu or applications folder. That one icon has the potential to open up an entire world of programming to a new generation.

Now, I was born beyond the BASIC days. I used some Apple computers at school, and learned some LOGO, but I was primarily in the DOS/Windows 3.1 era. How did I learn programming without having a prompt shoved in my face every day? Well, I put some effort in, going to science camp and selecting programming classes as an activity. But more than that, I had a TI Graphing Calculator, which comes with TI BASIC built in. I did a great deal of programming on that calcuator to ease my way through math classes.

And that brings me to my final point. Yes, I agree with this article. We need to expose simple, yet useful, programming interfaces on modern computers for educational purposes. However, the author of this article clearly doesn’t know about the large number of these that exist and can be easily acquired. There are TI Calculators, Microsoft Small BASIC, Arduino, Squeak, LOGO, and may more entry-level programming environments to learn on. If you have kids, or are looking to learn programming yourself, I highly suggest you try some of them out. We do not have a shortage of such things, we just need to get some of them pre-installed.

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How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen

There are many people out there with ideas for technology businesses, but have no technical skills. They need to hire developers to turn the ideas into reality. But how to do it? Derek Sivers offers his advice.

Do you have an idea for a website, online business, or application, but need a programmer to turn that idea into reality?

Many of my friends have been in the same position, so here’s my best advice, below.

How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen

This article has two points I need to address.

The first thing that needs to be said is that ideas are worthless, and only execution value.. Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, isn’t the only one to say this. The first time I heard it was from a Neil Gaiman blog post, but I can’t find the exact post at this time.

The point is that if you have an idea, but are unable to execute on it, then you should either learn how to execute the idea, or come up with a different idea that you are personally capable of executing. If you get some programmer to do the execution, then what value are you contributing? The programmer now holds all the cards, and you’ve got bupkiss.

And that leads directly to my best advice for getting a programmer to make your ideas happen. More important than anything else, you need some cold hard cash. If you want a talented programmer, you better bring a lot of it. We’re talking about many thousands.

You might trick some foolish or young programmers into doing work in exchange for equity, but almost anyone with talent or experience will have none of that. They know that your idea is worthless. Many other people have the same idea already. If they do the execution, they have all the equity. You have to buy it from them, not the other way around.

Remember, good programmers are really smart people. They have plenty ideas of their own they could be working on. If they’re going to take a huge risk on a new idea, why would they do it for your idea instead of their own?

Unless you find that really nice, or really naïve, programmer, you need to remove that risk. It’s your idea. You want to own it, even though you don’t contribute any value. You believe the idea will succeed. You want the programmer to do your bidding. Obviously, you have to pay the programmer in cash. No IOUs. No options. No equity. Only pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them will suffice. Hand out enough of those, and you’ll have programmers lining up to execute whatever idea you have no matter how ridiculous.

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Translated Manga Scan Aggregator Removes 350+ Series

Lately, the manga publishers of the world have been trying to fight hard to take down the scanlation sites. Anime News Network reports the latest development is removal of many titles by one of the most popular sites.

MangaFox, a site that aggregated translated scans of manga, has removed at least 350 titles from its website as of this writing. A site administrator cited an unspecified “copyright issue” as well as the recent formation of a coalition between U.S. and Japanese manga publishers against scanlation sites. The administrator added that “our boss is trying to negotiate” with unspecified parties.

Translated Manga Scan Aggregator Removes 350+ Series

I don’t want to spend this entire post retreading the intellectual property discussion for the jillionth time. I’ll just say that I strongly believe in weakening intellectual property law. Even if these manga publishers were able to completely eliminate all infringement, their sales would not increase, but their readership would decrease tremendously.

What I want to point out is that much of the blame for the existence of these manga sites actually rests on the shoulders of the anime publishers. Remember the epic saga of Crunchyroll? Most illicit sharing of copyrighted works occurs in peer to peer networks, but Crunchyroll had the balls to make a YouTube like web site with all kinds of copyrighted anime works. That’s like setting up a store in Times Square and openly selling crack. They didn’t even try to hide it.

What happened to Crunchyroll? The industry invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into them, cleaned them up, and made it their own. What lesson does that teach people out there? I think it sends a clear message that you should make a very popular site with blatant infringement. Then, once the popularity is big enough, nobody will destroy you because the popularity is too valuable. You can then cash out, and let the industry have the site.

I’m pretty sure that’s what MangaFox and the other scanlation sites were looking for. That’s why they are negotiating. They want to be like Crunchyroll. The thing is, the manga publishers are not the same as the anime publishers. I do not think it is likely they will going down the same path.

And you know what? That’s actually a shame, and a stupid move. It’s in their best interest to do the same thing to MangaFox that they did to Crunchyroll. I can use myself as anecdotal evidence.

I hardly ever bought DVDs before, and I still hardly ever buy DVDs. I don’t want more plastic discs hanging around the house, and the price is too high. That doesn’t mean I never buy DVDs. When the price is right on something I really want, I’ll get it. I bought all of Cowboy Bebop for $30 on Amazon.

I used to download tons of fansubs. I would only download unlicensed fansubs, but I downloaded a lot of them. I would get episode 1 of any show, just to see what kind of show it was. Nowadays, I can’t even remember the last fansub I downloaded. Why? Crunchyroll.

Originally I despised Crunchyroll getting tons of money for doing something so blatantly illegal. Now I use their site all the time. I’m watching old shows like Galaxy Express 999 and new shows like Durara. During these shows, there are advertisements. I try to block them, but there are still video ads I can’t block. These are shows that never will be on DVD, or I would never buy on DVD under any circumstance. Yet, because it’s just so easy to go to Crunchyroll, they are still making some money from these ads. Without Crunchyroll, they would be making zero from me. With it, they make a few bucks.

If I were the manga publishers, I would do the same thing to MangaFox that was done to Crunchyroll. Maybe even buy the MangaFox out and give it to the Crunchyroll guys to put them both under the same roof. Yes, there are scans of already translated stuff on these sites, but the vast majority are things that will never be published in English. If your the one who owns that series, why purposefully prevent people from enjoying it? Take the advertising money and be glad you got something. Be glad you entertained people around the world. It’s a lot more than you’re going to get otherwise.

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iPhone =/= Debian app

Based upon these comments, I think I can safely say that tialaramex is not a frequent user of a mobile device with a touch interface.

The _vast_ majority of iPhone apps are basically analogous to web pages, not Debian applications.

Imagine if there were debian packages like view-lwn-kinda-like-a-web-browser.deb and view-phoronix-sorta-like-a-web-browser.deb would you be more impressed and believe Debian was going to explode in popularity? Or would you think its developers had gone crazy? For Debian thousands of worthless packages is a cost, so they’re against it. For Apple every “Hello, world” app is money in the bank.

iPhone =/= Debian app

First of all, he provides no statistics whatsoever. Just how many iOS apps are glorified versions of web pages? There is no doubt that such apps exist, but how many? And what exactly counts as a glorified web page? YouTube has video editing now, so does that make the upcoming iMovie app a glorified web page?

We may not know exactly how many, but it is clear that many iOS applications are indeed web pages. In fact, many of them are literally web pages. They create an app that consists of a full-screen Safari frame that is set to load a specific web page. While these apps may exist, how many downloads do you think they get? You won’t find any such apps featured in the store, and we know that discovery is a huge problem. I highly doubt such apps are purchased frequently.

Now, you may try to suggest that some apps like Facebook, New York Times or ESPN ScoreCenter are the glorified web pages that are installed frequently. Well, those apps are all free of charge. They also all provide significant functionality above and beyond what can be done with a web site, even though they offer the same content.

Yes, they are optimized for a touch interface, which is very important, but their web sites are also optimized for mobile Safari, so the app doesn’t provide a huge benefit there. Where they do provide a huge benefit is in things like caching. The New York Times app will download and cache articles so that you may read them if you lose signal. The ESPN app will give you notifications of the status of your favorite teams, without using costly text messages. These are things that web pages can not do. They are also things you don’t need to do on a PC.

If you’re sitting at a computer with Debian, you likely have a guaranteed reliable and fast Internet connection. You also have a large screen and mouse and keyboard. You don’t need the computer to grab your attention because it isn’t dormant inside of your pocket. You don’t need to radically modify the user interface of a web site because it was built for the interface that you’re already using. The value of facebook.deb is very small compared to in Firefox. The value of facebook app on iOS is huge because it has many things that in Mobile Safari lacks.

Even if we stick just with the desktop computer, and forget mobile devices, you can see how stupid this argument is. Think of a site like It’s a complete instant messaging suite. I guess Pidgin is just view-meebo-kinda-like-a-web-browser.deb. I guess Debian should remove any and all .debs which duplicate functionality of web pages. Seeing as how people have even written browsers that run in browsers, I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Someone will make the Linux Kernel run in a browser, if they haven’t already, and then where will you be?

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The “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” Mentality

I just read a post by Martin Rue who gets upset when people say “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

As it is being said, I detect the whatever works attitude emanating from the person saying it. No concept of continuous improvement. No interest in reflecting. Not even 60 seconds invested to consider whether the process is efficient or could be improved. It most cases it’s almost a canned response to any comment referring to the efficiency of a process that is considered to be working.

I have to say that I both agree and disagree with Martin on this one. Yes, there are many times when something can be improved or made more efficient, and people do not want to invest time and effort to transform the satisfactory to the exceptional. People should be striving for excellence, and it is depressing when they do not. Yet, I find myself taking this philosophy quite often, and here is why.

Sometimes, especially in the world of software, I find people want to spend a lot of time improving things underneath the hood. That’s well and good, but quite often this re-architecture makes no difference for the user. If a program is coded in an ugly and horrible way, but it’s fast and functional and optimal for the user, who cares? Unless you have a lot of extra free time, or the bad code is causing maintenance or performance issues, why should you fix it? You’ll basically just be spending time achieving effectively nothing if the user experience is identical. You’ll actually make it worse if you cause downtime or introduce new bugs, which is almost certain.

The other time you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken is when you have something else to do. In every job I’ve had there have been multiple horrible computer systems to deal with. Almost none of them have been excellent, and many have been broken. Pretty much all of my time was spent fixing the broken ones. The other ones still sucked, and everybody knew it, but they worked. I guess I could sum it up by saying that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken if there’s something else that is in fact broken that you could be fixing.

Yeah, if everything works, and you can actually improve things for the user, go ahead and fix a non-broken system. Otherwise, the risk of causing some unnecessary downtime or introducing new bugs into a functional system is probably not worth whatever benefit your improvements might provide.

All this, of course, assumes you are in a business. If it’s open source or something, then strive for excellence no matter what.

Posted in Technology | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Blog of Commentsb

I would like to begin by thanking Daring Fireball for breaking the final straw leading to the creation of this blog. If it were not for people writing these sorts of things, then this blog would never have come to be.

You write on your site; I write on mine. That’s a response. I don’t use comments on Wilcox’s site to respond publicly to his pieces, but somehow it’s unfair that he can’t use comments on my site to respond to mine?

I’ll Tell You What’s Fair

I already have my own personal blog and a podcast. Why in the world would I need yet another avenue for personal expression? For many years I have frequently commented on other people’s blogs. I imagine I’ve spent a great deal of time typing a great many words. But why did I do it? Almost all of that was for naught. Well, no more will I type into the aether.

Commenting on the blogs of others is, now that I truly realize it, a pretty big waste of time. Your comment will never get any real attention. Have you ever seen anyone pass around a link to a specific comment? Not often. People share links to posts, not comments. Why choose to write a letter to the editor of one newspaper when you are free to take the front page of another?

Comments are fraught with many other problems as well. They can be lost to the ages when blogs disappear. They can be moderated out of existence. You have to remember you wrote them to revisit the blog and see if there are any replies. Most of your comments are simply lost to time and space as the original blog post becomes old and forgotten. Communities that form around specific sites can give you guff. You sometimes have to maintain registrations at various sites to get commenting privileges, something which Disqus has somewhat mitigated. And let us not forget those sites which do not allow you to comment at all.

Consider a large site like Engadget. Some posts there have thousands of comments. There’s no reason to ever post there. In all likelihood your post will never be read by any human being. Why write something meaningful that will not be read? If what you write is not meaningful, why write it at all?

Therefore, I have completely given up commenting on other blogs. Whenever I feel the need to post a comment, I will simply write my comment here and link to the post to which I am replying. The reason I have made a separate blog for this is because I do not want my commentary on the work of others to pollute the channels containing my own original works.

If only I had done this for as long as comments have existed. Years of my comments would all be collected and preserved in one place instead of scattered to the winds. C’est la vie.

Ironically, I have enabled the commenting feature on this very blog, but perhaps you should reconsider whether you should be using it.


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