Fix it

December 20th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

If your web application requires that my browser support Flash or Java, it’s broken, and you should fix it.


December 10th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

If printing copies of your slides and handing them out helps your audience, you did your slides wrong.

Just sayin’.

Unmaintainable software

October 16th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

This is pretty good: How to develop unmaintainable software. In fact, I recommend the whole blog.


May 28th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

John Gruber highlighted this on Daring Fireball, and I think it’s worth repeating. From an interview with Eric Catmull, president of Pixar:

On managers self-destructive tendencies for creative work:

The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I Think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.

Yes, the only way to avoid making mistakes is to not do anything, but that’s a mistake in itself. When management has no tolerance for bad things happening, nothing good will happen either.


April 12th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

A link to this video came over the IBM-MAIN mailing list this morning. It’s a training video produced by AT&T in 1973 on the computer services available at a Bell Labs facility. Enjoy!


WaSP is shutting down

March 1st, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

The Web Standards Project (WaSP): Our Work Here Is Done.

Yes, web standards are much more closely followed today than they were in 1998. Great work! Also, in a world where organizations often seem to acquire a life of their own and continue long after their purpose has been achieved or become moot, it’s great to see one declare victory and disband.

Managing programmers

February 18th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

This is from an email sent to the IBM-MAIN mailing list by John Gilmore:

G. H. Hardy wrote that 1) intellectual curiosity, a desire to know how
things work, 2) craftsmanship, the need to do the  best job one knows
how to do, and 3) a desire for recognition, even fame, are sine quibus
non for success at any intellectual task.

Managers who employ programmers who lack these three characteristics
get the mediocrity they deserve.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that these managers, who are not
themselves programmers, have, with no understanding of the ‘skill set’
that programmers need, taken refuge yet again in crackpot realism.
Production lines, particularly those that are highly automated, can be
managed.  Programming projects must be led.

Oldest working digital computer

November 21st, 2012  |  Published in Uncategorized

The world’s oldest working original digital computer

Built in 1951 for Britain’s nuclear industry, it was in use through the early 1970’s and after restoration was rebooted yesterday. More at The Register.


November 12th, 2012  |  Published in Uncategorized

A couple of words I don’t recall hearing at the ASMP meeting were “excellence” and “quality”, and that’s unfortunate. If the University is to truly be “of the first class” it should have administrative IT of the first class as well.

Now, some people hear “high quality” or “first class” and think “luxury”, but that’s not what this is about. We don’t need IT systems with lots of chrome or bells and whistles. Instead, we need systems that do their jobs correctly and efficiently, that require minimal maintenance and upkeep, and that make the people who use them more productive. Systems like this may cost more up front, but that additional cost will be more than covered by savings elsewhere.

When I started working here, our goal was to use information technology to make the University a better place to work, to learn, and to do research. Today it often feels like we’re just trying to keep things running. Can we go back to trying for first class IT?


November 5th, 2012  |  Published in Uncategorized

I heard the word “commodity” used several times at the ASMP meeting last week. The implied message seemed to be that the University should always go with a commodity solution when one is available. Hopefully it won’t really be “always”. Big enterprises don’t buy enterprise-class hardware and software just because they can afford to and are too dumb to figure out that a commodity solution is available; there usually is some additional value that the enterprise solution provides. Since the University is an enterprise-scale organization, we will need enterprise class solutions to some of our problems.

FireStats icon Powered by FireStats