intjonathan: (mamimi)
R&B on my new BFS sounds amazing, almost hilariously good. Modern mastering techniques ensure that hip-hop bass kicks on even cheap car speakers, so when you combine Missy Elliott and a Serious Bass Device, you get reminded that there are frequencies of music that ears have nothing to do with. I'm glad I have cool housemates.

I remember thinking something along the lines that after we put the site out for public use, the speed of development would slow to ensure a high-quality product. I was not the only one who thought this, and we were all of us wrong. The money clock dictates that the features must be released, the feature checkboxes must be filled, whatever it takes. Next year, I tell myself, then it'll be calm. It's probably a lie, but it helps me sleep at night.

rollin even by niralisse on Treemo

Every developer dreams of working a job where the engineering and management practices are sane. Yet, for some reason this job doesn't exist. Its employees will tell you that Google is a happy, magical place where Quality Is King. Microsoft employees will tell you it's pretty good where they're at, despite the rest of the company's departments. Amazon employees will be jealous if you have a real desk.
So while the bureaucracy at HITS was impenetrable, the engineering was solid, and we worked hard to ensure we met business needs in a maintainable, understandable fashion. At a startup, or at least at this startup, market timing trumps nearly every other factor. It's quite frightening to throw everything I learned about software quality out the window so we can meet carrier testing requirements on time. I've taken to reading my software engineering textbook at night just to remind myself that I'm not insane, the mobile industry is.

dusked by niralisse on Treemo

Aphorisms for today:

  • Money can't buy happiness, but it can sure keep you entertained.
  • A beer in the afternoon is delightful at work, but don't drink it because you're hungry, or you can expect to stumble home with a stupid grin on your face.
  • Software development is primarily a human endeavor. Ensure you choose the right humans to do it.
intjonathan: (Default)
I took today off by reading stories from a guy who worked on F-14s on a navy aircraft carrier in the early 1970s. He overhauled jet engines and helped the flight crew with catapult launches. Lots of stories about people nearly getting blown off the side of the ship by jet exhaust, and tailhook cables breaking. Don't mess with tailhook cables.

My dad was deployed briefly on the Constellation around the same time, on the "black shoe" (sea) side of operations. It was cool to see what the attitudes were like in the military at that time and think that hey, maybe dad saw some of these things. I acknowledge that boats aren't quite as boner-inducing as fighter planes, but I've never felt like he carried a sense of gravitas about his military service, it was just something he did. Some people Were In The Military, my dad was in the navy once. To a kid looking for a sense of purpose or pride in his background, I think I've always found that a little depressing. Why couldn't he be proud of his service, or at least the things he learned as part of it? Where are the friends he made, the stories he has? I refuse to believe it was just boring.

Around 2 I decided shower was necessary and basically started the day. Cleaned up my room for the first time in weeks. Played with the February Windows beta. It's still slow as hell, and I think ultimately disappointing. Much more stable than December's beta, but it's got a long way to go before it starts to feel like the Great Leap Forward that everyone wants. That said, I'm looking forward to running the final.

Vista is a transition OS, attempting to bridge two eras of desktop interaction. On one side is the 2000/XP and OS 9 model of "one machine, one OS" and "one folder, one view". But two tremendous changes are ahead for the desktop: virtualization and database-oriented filesystems.
Virtualization is running multiple OSes simultaneously or in container applications, allowing for, say, linux and windows on the same machine simultaneously. I have a whole desktop linux system that runs inside windows that I use for Unix development and to do remote work on the Housing servers. It's a godsend. Anytime I want, I can fire up a complete linux environment and still drop back to windows immediately. For casual users, technology is coming that would allow for rapid system restoration in the case of data loss or corruption, and greater machine independence. Take your whole computer with you and run it on another machine, all transparently. It's already huge in servers and will dramatically change life for the upper echelons of nerdery in the next 3-5 years.
Database filesystems allow the browsing of files using arbitrary critera rather than a tree structure. This would allow you to see all your documents from "a month ago", or which "have pictures in them", or which "were from English 202" rather than "the files in C:\Documents". It's a reversal of the "spatial" model of file management, implemented by the GNOME "nautilus" file manager here:

In the spatial model, each folder is a distinct interface object, with position, size and color. Every interaction with folders or files is consistent with its representation, and a file will not be viewed unless inside its folder. The window is the folder. This has some advantages, namely predictability and consistency. It plainly models the real world. The database model, however, has none of this. The folder concept is replaced by metadata, often (always in the music world) called tags. In Vista, it looks something like the following:

Gmail users are familiar with these in the form of labels, music fans know these implicitly as "the text stuff in iTunes." Files in this models don't have places, they don't have representations, they have information. The window is a search. You access files by knowing something about them, or by looking for them in a list. iTunes, for example, does not organize music in a tree structure, merely a list that you filter through typed searches or sorts. DB filesystems expand this concept to your entire hard drive.

I'm not sure of Microsoft's plans to incorporate virtualization in Vista (though I know it's part of the server edition), but their commitment to the search model has stuck. It's not forced on you, but if you want to, the power of arbitrarily customizable folder views is there. It's a whole new way to organize information, and it's going to wonderfully freeing for the next generation of computer users.

Can you tell it's a light weekend for schoolwork? I didn't do a lick of it today. It was awfully nice. I learned so much more. Spent an hour or so reading up on the Kaballah, which is basically the Jews Gone Wild of theology. Fascinating stuff, especially for someone who knows fuck-all about Jewish tradition. I admit it's akin to studying christian mysticism without touching the bible, but meh. The Kaballah 101 series is a thorough and lucid introduction to the key concepts that walks through each sephira in the kaballistic Tree of Life, explaining its significance and what it reveals about the nature of God. The series is written by an actual Rabbi, which lends it a little more credence than J. Random Geocities Page.

I admit to stumbling upon this information by looking up symbols depicted in Neon Genesis Evangelion. A lot of things about that show started to make sense the more I read.

Tomorrow I'm giving someone a computer at 1:00, then study, then group. No hurry.


intjonathan: (Default)

June 2012

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