March 2004 Archives

How to be a Programmer

| 1 Comment

I'd usually just put this in the notes section, but I liked what I read so much that it deserves a mention here, "How to be a Programmer (local copy), A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary."

To be a good programmer is difficult and noble. The hardest part of making real a collective vision of a software project is dealing with one's coworkers and customers. Writing computer programs is important and takes great intelligence and skill. But it is really child's play compared to everything else that a good programmer must do to make a software system that succeeds for both the customer and myriad colleagues for whom she is partially responsible. In this essay I attempt to summarize as concisely as possible those things that I wish someone had explained to me when I was twenty-one.

If you aren't already, you should really subscribe to my notes feed in your RSS reader / aggregator. :-)

(via Jim Winstead)

Listen to your customers

Vani sent me a link to Perhaps the saddest IT story ever told.

"Misjudged the corporate market. The company built software products based on little market research, without a clear understanding of what the real problem worth solving was and where the sweet spot in terms of functionality and price/performance would be. Engineers asked where requirements came from, marketing said "trust us," and when it was all over, the sales people asked us what we were smoking. I understand this is life on the bleeding edge, but if you ask your customers what they want, they will tell you."

More from Clarke... Richard Clarke terrorizes the White House

The vice president commented that there was "no great success in dealing with terrorists" during the 1990s, when you were serving under President Clinton. He asked, "What were they doing?"

It's possible that the vice president has spent so little time studying the terrorist phenomenon that he doesn't know about the successes in the 1990s. There were many. The Clinton administration stopped Iraqi terrorism against the United States, through military intervention. It stopped Iranian terrorism against the United States, through covert action. It stopped the al-Qaida attempt to have a dominant influence in Bosnia. It stopped the terrorist attacks at the millennium. It stopped many other terrorist attacks, including on the U.S. embassy in Albania. And it began a lethal covert action program against al-Qaida; it also launched military strikes against al-Qaida. Maybe the vice president was so busy running Halliburton at the time that he didn't notice.


Why do you think Cheney -- and the Bush administration in general -- ignored the warnings that were put to them by [former national security advisor] Sandy Berger, by you, by George Tenet, who is apparently somebody they hold in great esteem?

They had a preconceived set of national security priorities: Star Wars, Iraq, Russia. And they were not going to change those preconceived notions based on people from the Clinton administration telling them that was the wrong set of priorities. They also looked at the statistics and saw that during eight years of the Clinton administration, al-Qaida killed fewer than 50 Americans. And that's relatively few, compared to the 300 dead during the Reagan administration at the hands of terrorists in Beirut -- and by the way, there was no military retaliation for that from Reagan. It was relatively few compared to the 259 dead on Pan Am 103 in the first Bush administration, and there was no military retaliation for that. So looking at the low number of American fatalities at the hands of al-Qaida, they might have thought that it wasn't a big threat.
Dr. Rice now says that your plans to "roll back" al-Qaida were not aggressive enough for the Bush administration. How do you answer that, in light of what we know about what they did and didn't do?

I just think it's funny that they can engage in this sort of "big lie" approach to things. The plan that they adopted after Sept. 11 was the plan that I had proposed in January [2001}. If my plan wasn't aggressive enough, I suppose theirs wasn't either.

Read the whole thing. (via Will Parker)

Fighting the last war

| 1 Comment

From 60 Minutes, Clarke's Take On Terror (Clarke was the White House terrorism adviser).

"There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently -- underlined urgently -- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on. "I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."
"Osama bin Laden had been saying for years, 'America wants to invade an Arab country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country. He had been saying this. This is part of his propaganda," adds Clarke. "So what did we do after 9/11? We invade an oil-rich and occupy an oil-rich Arab country which was doing nothing to threaten us. In other words, we stepped right into bin Laden's propaganda. And the result of that is that al Qaeda and organizations like it, offshoots of it, second-generation al Qaeda have been greatly strengthened."

Didn't Time Magazine have a similar article a year or two ago?

As Ben said, it's outrageous. Be sure to read the whole thing.

(via Ben Hyde)

Street Smarts: Learning From JetBlue.

David Neeleman, JetBlue CEO

One day flying JetBlue, I found myself being served by David Neeleman, the airline's founder. When was the last time you met your customers and asked how you could better serve them?


As we sat there, buckling our seat belts and checking out the televisions in front of us, a middle-aged man with slightly graying hair stood up in the front of the plane. He had on the long apron that JetBlue flight attendants wear, with his name stitched into it. "Hi," he said, "my name is Dave Neeleman, and I'm the CEO of JetBlue. I'm here to serve you this evening, and I'm looking forward to meeting each of you before we land."

(of course Jet Blue only flies from Long Beach (and a single route from Ontario), not from the much closer Burbank or LAX.)

(via jeremy)

Morten Halfdan posted about Walmart having pushed the cost savings too far.

Fast Company had a very interesting article about that a few months ago: The Wal-Mart You Don't Know.

The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?

Tiny tiny 4GB hard drive


stampdrive.jpgSo you thought the 4GB IBM/Hitachi micro drives as used in the iPod mini are small?

Toshiba is making a 4GB drive that is only 2.1cm (0.85 inch) in diameter. (via Macminute)

Less than 10 years ago when I had my BBS and FidoNet hub "the Source!" (spelled that way) I had a much bigger disk with much less capacity that imploded. Henrik Jørgensen came to the rescue, lending me a 4GB scsi disk and a scsi controller so I could get up and running again. The drive was a "full height" 5.25" sized drive. It sounded like a small jet when it powered on and like a good size freight train while running. And of course I slept in the same room... But man, 4GB was ENORMOUS!


I don't read slashdot (no, not even for the slow train-wreck-like fascination of the comments). I went to the site today because they linked to the parrot site. If you haven't seen, we updated the Parrot site with lots of new stuff just a few days ago. The server is fine, thank you very much. I wish I could say it's because Combust is so cool, but we only get a request or two per second from Slashdot readers. I guess most Slashdot readers couldn't program to pay their cable internet.

ask: I'm user 1258 on slashdot
Robert: My slashdot id matches /^\d\d$/
ask: but my username is shorter!
Robert: pfft
ask: and my use.perl user id is ^\d{2}$ ;-)
Robert: my use.perl user id (1414) is ^(\d{2})$1$
ask: alright, can't beat that. But my username is still shorter.

SCO Group sued AutoZone (full text of the complaint) for having used their libraries when they migrated to Linux. They don't have any evidence, but rather just say "they did it too fast, so they must have gotten help from IBM and stolen our code". (Note, it didn't have anything to do with the Linux code).

The lead developer at AutoZone at the time of the migration writes on Groklaw that the SCO claims is a pile of %$%#$.

They also sued Daimler Chrysler, but it's not entirely clear that has anything to do with Linux either.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.38
/* bf */