Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Thomas Friedman writes about "situational values" versus "sustainable values" in today's column, and summarizes them as follows. Someone who is acting on situational values thinks, "I'll be gone when the bill comes due." Someone acting on sustainable values thinks, "I will never be gone. I will always be here." He then goes on to point out the many ways our leaders, corporations, banks, and individuals have been acting as if they'll be gone when the bill comes due.

I like this description. Back when I was developing software, I ran into the same two kinds of programmers. There were those who wrote code as if they would be gone tomorrow, and there were those who wrote code as if they were also going to be the ones who would have to maintain it. I tried to write code as if the person who would have to maintain it were a homicidal maniac who knew where I lived.

If we're only living for the moment, if we are not thinking about the consequences of our actions today on the next generation, and the one after that, and the one after that, then what does that make us?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Extreme pricing

I've been aware for a while now that Amazon has a real-time pricing algorithm going on in the background, but I don't think I've ever seen prices change by a single penny before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Socialism, Communism, or Co-Op?

Public schools?
Toll-free roads, bridges, tunnels?
City water?
Public hospitals?
Employee-owned company?
Neighbors and friends buying food in bulk and splitting it up?
Public libraries?
Public safety (police, firefighters)?
Interstate highways?
Electric company?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The missing manual for iPhoto

Apple makes beautiful products, no doubt about it. But they still can't read the user's mind.

A patron is using iPhoto to make a slideshow, and we weren't able to find a view or a menu option that would let us change the order of the photos. A little research and I learned that we first have to make an "Album" and then a "Library," and then we can order the photos in the Library Or was it the other way 'round? Library then Album? I'm still not too clear on that.

Here's Apple's explanation:

The patron will be back in today. Maybe we can figure this out. But it's slow going when the patron is at the keyboard/touchpad.