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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:49 pm on December 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Microsoft, , , S&P 500, web application   

    Happy New Year! 

    I am continuing this blog’s tradition of a New Year’s cards, even while thinking of closing down deadprogrammer.com. I might do it the Dr. Fun way – get it to 10 years and call it quits.

    This was a tough fricking year. I spent it on call for application breakdowns, learning system administration, stressing out of my mind, hitting hard deadlines, missing soft ones, gaining 15 pounds, etc, etc.

    I was stupid enough not to listen to my very smart friend and keeping my 401K in S&P 500 instead of in cash equivalent funds. I did have enough sense to sell it after Lehman Brothers shat the bed.

    This was my first year of being 99% free of Microsoft Windows. Indeed, once you go Mac you don’t go back.

    An interesting new web application that I worked on in my spare time should launch around February. I did waste a lot of my free time watching “my stories” (“The Wire”, “Mad Men”, “How It’s Made”, and other yuppie deligths), but I did not waste all of it. You’ll see.

    In any case, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:26 am on December 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Danish design, , early Internet literature, Harold Kroto, Ian Bank, Lego, Microsoft,   

    The Problem With Code Reuse and Abstraction 

    Currently I am neck deep in some multi-layered multi-moduled code that I inherited from some consultants. Younger developers who work with me are also upset with the convolutions, but they are convinced that their way of snapping together Lego blocks is vastly superior and much more maintainable. Just like the consultants though they believe that the more modular, abstract and generic they make their code – the better it is, even if they are building a one-off super specific application. Modularity and code reuse is their number one priority, only then followed by performance, brevity, and lack of bugs.

    Development frameworks and code reuse that they promote seem to the the way things are going these days. I was reminded of this trend when I was reading this passage in Ian Bank’s “The Bridge” today:

    “”Are there laws against what they did?”
    “There’s no law to permit it, Orr, that’s the point. Good grief man, you can’t have people going off and doing things just because they want to, just because they think something up! You have to have a… a framework””

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for code reuse, abstractions and other such fineries. It’s just that I tend to look at certain tasks and think – there’s a piece of custom code needed here! The younger developers always look at me with great disapproval and tell me that I should use module X or Y, or how they are working on a module that will cover all problems of this kind in a generic way.

    Today I came upon a perfect metaphor for such thinking. Apparently it originated from an origami forum, but it seems to me I encountered it in Fidonet signature years ago. In any case, the quote goes like this:

    “An elephant consists of a trunk, ears, and a hippopotamus”.

    When you are building things out of Lego blocks, you must fight the temptation to substitute a hippo for the starting point of an elephant. It looks like Lego did mess up the young minds just the way Sir Harold Kroto said when he delivered a crotch punch to the Lego sales:

    “New toys (mainly Lego) have led to the extinction of Meccano and this has been a major disaster as far as the education of our young engineers and scientists is concerned. Lego is a technically trivial plaything and kids love it partly because it is so simple and partly because it is seductively coloured. However it is only a toy, whereas Meccano is a real engineering kit and it teaches one skill which I consider to be the most important that anyone can acquire: This is the sensitive touch needed to thread a nut on a bolt and tighten them with a screwdriver and spanner just enough that they stay locked, but not so tightly that the thread is stripped or they cannot be unscrewed.”

    If I knew about some of the things that were lurking in the codebase I’m working with now, I’d work something like this into my hiring contract:

    “In April of 2000 while on a business trip I received a near-frantic email from someone with an unusual request. It seems that she represented a fellow with a company in Seattle (no, NOT Microsoft). Turns out that last September this guy was hired, and in his contract of employment it stipulated that he wanted a desk made out of LEGO.”

    Sometimes I am also reminded of other classics of early Internet literature.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:18 pm on September 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alaska, , , Crispin Porter, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Democratic presidential hopeful, , designer for Sarah Palin's glasses, Economy of London, Guy John, John Edward, Kazuo Kawasaki, Los Angeles County, Microsoft, , , presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, ,   

    I only play a doctor on TV 

    So, those magnum Jupiter brains at Crispin Porter + Bogusky managed to crap the bed with their Microsoft ads instead of making Microsoft cool. For some reason this made me remember these three factoids:

    According to Wikipedia, PC Guy John “PC” Hodgman is a Mac user, and Justin “Mac” Long is computer illiterate.

    Kazuo Kawasaki, the Japanese designer for Sarah Palin’s glasses, is grateful to the Republican vice presidential candidate for making his product famous, although he acknowledged he also likes Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama“. Palin’s frames without lenses cost as much as John Edward’s haircut.

    I’ve read somewhere that Norm Abram hates plaid shirts. A person who worked for the show told me that his shirts are mostly from Land’s End, by the way.

    I don’t know, I guess this is how my puny Pluto brain works…

     
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