Category Archives: Technology

“I am a terrible programmer”

That provocative title from Dan Shipper:

Part of me is thinking: in some ways, you were a terrible programmer
Other part is, well … it’s worked perfectly for the last 20 months and I’ve never had to touch it.

Like most things in life, the answer to what a good coder is, is somewhere in between the guy who wants to get it out fast and the guy who wants to make it beautiful.

His post-script is also a profound trueism in software:

P.S. In my defense, the find_art.js file that Scott was referencing was supposed to be a prototype. They weren’t sure if people would actually use the feature and wanted to test it. It ended up being so popular that they left it in!

Software Runs the World: How Scared Should We Be That So Much of It Is So Bad?

From The Atlantic:

The underlying problem here is that most software is not very good. Writing good software is hard. There are thousands of opportunities to make mistakes. More importantly, it’s difficult if not impossible to anticipate all the situations that a software program will be faced with, especially when–as was the case for both UBS and Knight–it is interacting with other software programs that are not under your control. It’s difficult to test software properly if you don’t know all the use cases that it’s going to have to support.

Though there are a number of angles to this piece (and you should read it all), here’s another nugget:

This is one problem that regulation probably can’t solve directly. How can you write a rule saying that companies have to write good software?

Super Cool, Super Divergent

Smart-phone platforms: iPhone, Android, WebOS, Maemo, etc.

All are super-cool. But all are also astonishingly divergent in their approach to many of the details. So much so that one has to learn each one separately. My wife (an Android user) picks up my (webOS) phone and gets frustrated with it.

I find this particularly surprising since we’ve been making “intuitive” Graphical User Interfaces for a generation now, with standards that have been around nearly that long.

I’m sure they’ll converge again before too long, as (hopefully) the best ideas are adopted broadly.

Insidious Ad Award

Here’s a screen-shot of ClamWin.com’s main page, as of today.

Watch that download!

Notice the giant Download button on the right. That’s really an ad for who-knows-what. To download ClamWin, you want the much-smaller download menu item on the left.

Caveat emptor.

Google Art Project

Google has just introduced its Google Art Project.

It’s Google Street View inside the prominent museums of the world, with high-resolution images of each work.

What a great concept! Hat’s off to them.

I’ve been through Amsterdam three times (stop-overs to other destinations), and never got to see either the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. I look forward to exploring them here.

I hope and expect that this will increase museum traffic.

SourceForge Hacked

The SourceForge site was hacked last week, with the attackers going as far as putting a hacked SSH daemon in place.

Since hacking pushes one towards paranoia, let’s go there for a minute.

An attacker being able to change source-code in any SourceForge repository, bypassing change-logs and hacking files’ time-stamps, could introduce compromised source-code to a lot of open-source projects that touch on security. The commercial packages that rely on them multiplies that compromise up by who-knows-how-much.

Wow. Ugly.