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

    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 8:28 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a manager, a marketer, , , , , , , , , , Seattle, ,   

    Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time 

    Since 1987, Starbucks’s star has been on the rise, growing from 11 Seattle, WA-based stores to more than 1,000 worldwide. Its goals grew, too, from the more modest, albeit fundamental one of offering high-quality coffee beans roasted to perfection to, more recently, opening a new store somewhere every day. An exemplary success story, Starbucks is identified with innovative marketing strategies, employee-ownership programs, and a product that’s become a subculture. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a manager, a marketer, or a curious Starbucks loyalist, Pour Your Heart into It will let you in on the revolutionary Starbucks venture. CEO Howard Schultz recounts the company’s rise in 24 chapters, each of which illustrates such core values as “Winning at the expense of employees is not victory at all.”

  • Michael Krakovskiy 7:23 am on September 3, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Austin, Authors Harbourfront Centre, Authors Harbourfront Centre Toronto, , Barnes & Noble New York, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Booksmith, Burnside store, Denver, , Jessie Jessup Dallas, Ken Kalfus, KGB, KGB Bar, , Mark Z Danielewski, , Pasadena, , , Seattle, , Tattered Cover Bookstore, Texas Book Festival Continental Club Gallery, University Book Store Seattle, University District store,   

    Mark Z Danielewski’s Signing 

    I am still trying to finish a few book reviews, but my mind is following associative paths a bit too freely these days, so they are coming out too wordy and confusing. Meanwhile, one of the authors that I am writing about, Mark Z Danielewski, came out with a new book, “Only Revolutions“. It has a cryptic flash website. I noticed that the two eyes comprise a stereo pair, if you look at them through a stereo viewer (or simpy coross-eyed) the pictures seem to float around.

    I checked Barnes & Noble’s website, and there seems to be indeed a reading and signing on September 25th at 7 PM at the store at 675 6th Avenue (I used to work just around the corner from there). If you want to meet up, shoot me an email or IM.

    For those of you in Ka-lee-fornia, Texachussets and other cromulent places, here’s the entire Only Revolutions tour:

    Sep 16 06 Skylight Books Los Angeles 7:30PM
    Sep 17 06 West Hollywood Book Fair multi-author panel, West Hollywood Park, West Hollywood 2:15PM
    Sep 18 06 University Book Store Seattle (University District store) 7PM
    Sep 19 06 Powell’s City of Books Portland (Burnside store) 7:30PM
    Sep 21 06 Bookshop Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 7:30PM
    Sep 22 06 M Is For Mystery San Mateo 2PM **signing only**
    Sep 22 06 Booksmith San Francisco 7PM
    Sep 24 06 KGB Bar New York 7PM with Ken Kalfus
    Sep 25 06 Barnes & Noble New York (6th Ave) 7PM
    Sep 26 06 Brookline Booksmith Brookline 7PM
    Sep 27 06 Books & Books Coral Gables 8PM
    Sep 29 06 Master’s Tea/Yale University 4PM

    Oct 10 06 Boulder Book Store Boulder 12PM (noon)
    Oct 10 06 Tattered Cover Bookstore Denver 7:30PM
    Oct 11 06 Bookslut Reading Series Hopleaf Bar, Chicago
    Oct 12 06 Borders Books Madison 7PM
    Oct 14 06 Twin Cities Book Festival Minneapolis
    Oct 15 06 Prairie Lights Books Iowa City 1PM **check for webcast details**
    Oct 17 06 Borders Books Los Angeles (Westwood) 7PM
    Oct 18 06 Book Soup Los Angeles (Sunset) 7PM
    Oct 20 06 International Festival of Authors Harbourfront Centre Toronto
    Oct 22 06 Strand Bookstore New York 5PM
    Oct 23 06 New Haven Public Library New Haven 6:30PM
    Oct 24 06 Collegiate School Book Festival New York 6PM
    Oct 25 06 Vroman’s | store link Pasadena 7PM
    Oct 26 06 KDGE interview with DJ Jessie Jessup Dallas 2PM-6PM
    Oct 28 06 Texas Book Festival Continental Club Gallery Austin 9PM

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