Kathy Sierra and the Blogger’s Code of Conduct

The blogosphere was aflutter last week after a slew of nasty comments and death threats were leveled at one of my favorite authors, Kathy Sierra of Head First fame, by one or more anonymous posters on her blog and in other high-profile forums.

Kathy’s reaction to the punks (and the owner’s of the sites themselves) was covered on Slashdot and even hit the BBC. CNN was slated to air a segment on it this morning.

The incident spurred a call for a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct,” and Tim O’Reilly has led the way with a first draft on his blog. Mostly common sense I suppose, but still a good start and cause for reflection when posting or replying to blogs.

In any case, I hope to see Kathy back and writing soon. Readers like myself owe much to her ability to help us understand complex software development concepts through humor, and to drive the point home by involving beer consumption as the logical end goal of any proper sample application.

Keith Olbermann rules

25 September 2006 » Media, Politics

The world is flat

26 June 2006 » Photos, Politics, Travel

I’m in Närpes, Finland working from my grandmother’s house for 10 days. It’s a very rural area, and as kids this place seemed so remote that after spending 6 summer weeks here it felt like you were coming home to an entirely different world. Your friends had changed, a season full of events had passed and you were an outsider when you returned.

It’s been a completely opposite experience this time. My grandmother’s 200 year old farm house has a 10 megabit fiber connection – twice as fast as the top-of-the line DSL package in the New York metropolitan area – and voice over IP lets me join conference calls with better comfort and clarity than my cell phone.

All this coincides with observations about the world of business and communications in the book I’ve finally gotten around to reading, The World Is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. Unless I explicitly remind my friends and coworkers, they can’t really tell where I am.

I have some pictures posted, but will spend more time making them presentable when I return.

Update: I’ve returned and posted my pictures in a better thumbnail format.

The bike shed

29 March 2006 » Politics, Potpourri, Web development

I first heard about this concept a couple of months ago and thought it was a clever observation about human nature. In the past few weeks however, I’ve come to realize that it is, in fact, human nature in a nutshell. I have been subject to it more than a few times recently and find myself doing it to others.

At its heart, the bike shed meme – detailed in a book by C. Northcote Parkinson – encapsulates the idea that when one proposes a simple solution to a simple business problem, regardless of its merits, that solution will be critically analyzed and subject to eternal debate about how the problem can be better solved.

On the other hand, when one suggests a solution to a more complicated problem, the audience tends to accept the proposal because they have nothing to add or because they assume you are indeed correct.

Parkinson shows how you can go in to the board of directors and get approval for building a multi-million or even billion dollar atomic power plant, but if you want to build a bike shed you will be tangled up in endless discussions.

Parkinson explains that this is because an atomic plant is so vast, so expensive and so complicated that people cannot grasp it, and rather than try, they fall back on the assumption that somebody else checked all the details before it got this far.

A bike shed on the other hand. Anyone can build one of those over a weekend, and still have time to watch the game on TV. So no matter how well prepared, no matter how reasonable you are with your proposal, somebody will seize the chance to show that he is doing his job, that he is paying attention, that he is here.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t be a hater.


27 January 2006 » Politics

“Help control the local stray pet population. Teach your dog abstinence.” – Stephen Colbert.

End of an era

06 January 2006 » Politics

I don’t claim to be an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but if there was one thing I took away from a class I took in the Spring of 1998, it was that there were shades of gray on all sides and only one decidedly “negative” persona. I recall thinking at the time that there would be hope for a lasting resolution to the conflict, as long as that character was not centrally involved in the governance of Israel.

To my surprise, in the Spring of 2001, that man was elected Prime Minister. Recently, he had changed many of his views and policies for the better, in my opinion. Regardless of what I think and history’s final verdict, an era is over and a chapter finally closed.

No way out

21 November 2005 » Politics

Jesus of Suburbia

17 November 2005 » Music, Politics

I really got into Green Day’s “American Idiot” album around March of this year, thanks to my friend Mike York. I’ve started listening to the album again recently, and it’s amazing how its year-old anti-administration theme takes on even more relevance nowadays, particularly the lines

This hurricane of fucking lies
I lost my faith to this
This town that don’t exist

And I walked this line
A million and one fucking times
But not this time

From the excellent multi-part “Jesus of Suburbia.”

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