Thursday, January 22, 2009

Communicate and Debate with Code

Frequently while building a software product the stakeholders will disagree on a proposed feature and a seemingly endless and tedious debate ensues. Occasionally some will use intellectual dishonesty to "win" the debate. I have seen for example dishonest programmers artificially inflate time estimates (to implement the code) in order to tip the scales of the argument against a feature they don't like.

This morning I read Paul Buchheit's great article called communicating with code. This passage stood out:

The point of this story, I think, is that you should consider spending less time talking, and more time prototyping, especially if you're not very good at talking or powerpoint. Your code can be a very persuasive argument.

The other point is that it's important to make prototyping new ideas, especially bad ideas, as fast and easy as possible.
If you are an honest programmer who really cares about your product you won't turn to intellectual dishonesty. Be open to ideas from all stakeholders. Make your software design flexible so that new features can be quickly prototyped and experimented with. The faster you can implement features (good and bad ones) the faster your software can evolve and improve. Working code has a way of clarifying arguments. I have certainly implemented stuff I thought was bad on paper but worked great in practice (and vice versa).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Super Hero Obama? is now selling a Barack Obama "super-hero" T-Shirt for $17.99.

What about the rest of the cabinet? Perhaps Batman Biden? Or Catwoman Clinton? I wish I had photoshop skills.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Papercut" Art

Paul shared a link to an article on "papercut" art by an artist name Peter Callesen. Go check out his website and his selected works. They are amazing.

N79 Active

Nokia just announced a deal to bundle a Bluetooth heart monitor and an application called SportsTracker with the N79 in a promotion called the N79 Active.

Nokia SportsTracker is an application that runs on your phone and uses the onboard GPS receiver, accelerometer, and data connection to track your workouts. Data is then uploaded to your account on the SportsTracker website. Users can track miles ran, heart rate, average speed, and the music they listened to at various points in their workout.
Check out this promotional video:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Drug Study

I was asked today if I wanted to participate in a drug study. Here is part of the email:

"We are recruiting right handed males for a drug study. This involves an FDA approved drug. 1 screening and 2 MRI scans. Pays $350."
Should I do it?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sixense’s TrueMotion Game Controller

Check out the "Sixense’s TrueMotion game controller"

From a posting on

It looks very much like Nintendo’s Wiimote and the basic idea is the same. But TrueMotion uses a base station that creates an electromagnetic field to provide much, much, much more precision than the Wiiremote.
Great video demo:

Intellectual Infrastructure Projects

Excellent op-ed by Thomas Friedman this week arguing that the upcoming stimulus package needs to focus less on infrastructure projects (roads and bridges) and more on educational stimulus. Perhaps we could call it "intellectual infrastructure"?

One of the smartest stimulus moves we could make would be to eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers, staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science — instead of subsidizing their educations and then sending them home — and offer full scholarships to needy students who want to go to a public university or community college for the next four years.
When I was a Computer Science student in college most of my classmates were from either India or China. I think it is insane that we don't make it as easy as possible for these highly educated and highly skilled individuals to stay and work when we have such a shortage of qualified workers here. Right now we are just encouraging them to return home to create companies that will compete with ours.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Zeemote Website

The Zeemote website just relaunched and it looks amazing. I wish I had the design and artistic skills to create a website as good as it. Bravo to the team who got it done.

DISCLAIMER: This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Macbook Wheel Announced

Macbook Wheel Announced:

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Voice would be easier

I write very very very slowly. It's just one of my several weaknesses. That combined with the fact that I get swamped with email means I often feel like I live in MS Outlook.

Often times I receive a short one line question over e-mail that requires a multi-paragraph response. By the time I'm done I may have invested 15-30 minutes and all too often what happens next is another brief email asking for further clarification!

Usually the person is unaware of the complexity of the answer or the time it will take you to compose it. Sometimes however the person is simply looking for a "cheap" answer in which they don't need to invest their time.

Today I inadvertently sent one of those innocent one line questions to my boss. The reply was

Voice would be easier. Let's discuss tomorrow.
My New Years resolution is to make that a template email response and use it frequently.