Fly on the Wall: “the Himalayas is an orogenous zone” Matt 13 Apr 2006

20 comments Latest by ismael celis

Some of the activity this week at our internal 37signals Campfire chat room:

Marcel introduced us to new words, like littoral (pertaining to the shore area), nephology (the study of clouds), and orogeny (the process by which mountains are formed).

Marcel: indeed for some the Himalayas is an orogenous zone
Marcel: *rimshot*
Ryan: *scattered, half-hearted claps*
Marcel: *loosens collar*
Marcel: auricularis - in some people, a vistigial muscle that moves or wiggles the outter ear
Ryan: i have one of those
Ryan: or two, i guess
Marcel: so, if you can move your ear that means you are lower down on the evolutionary ladder ;)

Sam yawned in the direction of Yahoo’s Instant Search. Jason doesn’t get it and asked, “what problem is it solving?…search is plenty fast.” Sam replied, “it solves the problem of yahoo creating a javascript library and having nothing to use it for.”

Jason changed the room’s topic to “It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.” -Benjamin Franklin

David thinks the headline YouTube lubed with second-round funding is too funny. “They’re getting rammed alright.”

Jamis saw a Juniper Titmouse on his front porch, sheltering from the rain. Ryan checked the photo and noticed a similarity: “a little bit of a DHH hairdo on that one…just need to reverse the direction.”

Marcel wanted to know the best Tufte book to start with. Ryan said to just go in order, starting with The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and mentioned some Tufte quotes he likes: “Good design is clear thinking made visible.”…”The point of analytic design is to assist thinking.”…”How could all those big projects in the last 3,000 years ever been done without a Gantt chart? Very complex things can be done without the aid of the central authority of the Gantt chart.”

The Tufte talk led to an Engelbart exchange:

Ryan: love it. it’s very engelbart
Marcel: humperdink?
Ryan: lol
Ryan: dougals
Ryan: the guy is incredible
Ryan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engelbart
Marcel: http://www.engelbert.com/

Here’s a collection of articles by Engelbart. His team at the Augmentation Research Center (the lab he founded) developed computer-interface elements such as bit-mapped screens, multiple windows, groupware, hypertext and precursors to the graphical user interface.

Jason said this photo shows true fear.

Using Wiki in Education interviewed Jason using Campfire. A sample:

We keep things simple because we think that’s all 80% of the people need. When you try to make 100% of the people happy you end up with bloated, messy tools. When you make 80% of the people happy, you can make simple focused tools that do a few things really well and leave the rest out. Too much software tries to solve 100% of the problem. And that software sucks.

Jamis got a kick out of this line on the IE7 page at Microsoft: “Everything you need, nothing you don’t, and a few things you never imagined.”

Ryan thinks this would be really funny: “choose a famous painting…and write a functional spec for it…’Woman in foreground holding pitcher of milk’…’Sunlight from top left corner casts shadows on cottage floor’…’Fruits arranged on table.’” Jamis responded, “We at 37signals perceive programming as more of an art form, and less of a science.” Ryan continued, “Exactly. just like when you paint, there is a science to mixing color and stretching canvas…but there is no science for forming the neck, or the light on the shoulder…and there’s a practical reason that it should be art and not science…the reason being that people are supposed to feel GOOD when they use it.”

Jamis thought he had a pet peeve against the non-word “irrespective” but then realized his peeve is actually with irregardless. “I’m so confused I’m even getting my peeves mixed up.” Coming soon from 37signals: a peeve storage app?

Jason pointed out projectdetail.com, folks who are building a business around the Basecamp API.

Jason enjoyed the Avoid Feature Cascade bit at Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.

Ryan labelled What is Information Architecture? “a great example of the old guard.” He says the quotes around “see” in the following example “tell it all”…

“The Functional Specification document consists of wireframes, flowcharts, site maps and detailed function tables for each major work area of a site. Use Case Scenarios are applied to work areas where applicable and appropriate depending on the nature of the project. Thus, you’ll begin to “see” the application well before it is actually built.”

Jason showed us this email he received: “When you heat up leftovers in the microwave, what time do you enter? 2:30 or 2:22? One is close enough and much faster.” I chuckled because I actually do enter :55, 1:11, 2:22, etc.

Marcel said, “Helping people use and learn how to write software has made me at once gain and lose so much faith in humanity.”

Ryan talked about doing support in Gmail: “The worst part about support is going in to the jungle, and seeing all those glowing eyes in the leafery, and feeling that sense of loom and doom and gloom terror.” Marcel agreed and commented, “gmail should imbed a Guns N’ Roses MIDI.”

20 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Michael Clark 13 Apr 06

Jason showed us this email he received: “When you heat up leftovers in the microwave, what time do you enter? 2:30 or 2:22? One is close enough and much faster.” I chuckled because I actually do enter :55, 1:11, 2:22, etc.

The real question is do you enter :90 or 1:30? Same result, one is a keystroke shorter.

benny 13 Apr 06

I used ‘whilst’ on my blog once a long long time ago, and I’m using it in this comment right now. I am a tool.

MH 13 Apr 06

Agree about Yahoo Search. What drives me nuts about it is, you start typing, and then you see something appear that you want to investigate, but then it updates itself again, sending the link of interest into oblivion…

I have the same issue with Spotlight on Mac OS. I only use it if I need to re-launch Quicksilver ;-)

Also, I realize it’s in “beta” (roll eyes), but you think they should have launched with only about 80 or so links in the index?

jk 13 Apr 06

I’ve been a fan of 1:11 for a long time (although my wife always gave me a hard time about it). Then I realized 66 was close and faster. Now I have one them new-fangled microwaves and just hit “Add minute.” I still use 3:33 for frozen stuff. I knew there was a reason I liked you guys.

Arch Stanton 13 Apr 06

If you really want to save time with your microwave, your should read Steve Pavlina excellent article:
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/07/saving-time-with-your-microwave/

George 13 Apr 06

When I was about 10 years old, I had the most brilliant art teacher. One of the many wonderful exercises she set us during our lessons was to do just that - right a “functional spec” for a painting. Then as a class, we traded our specs and used the specs to create a new painting. Then we looked at the originals and compared them with what we had created.

Thinking about it, she was one of the best teachers I ever had.

George 13 Apr 06

Write/right, bah. My teachers would be so ashamed of me. :P

Eamon 13 Apr 06

I use add minute, then open the door after thirty seconds.

Rob Poitras 13 Apr 06

The real question is do you enter :90 or 1:30? Same result, one is a keystroke shorter.
Least amount of effort is :99
Glad to see I am not the only person pondering the important things in life.

tj 13 Apr 06

+1 for microwave button efficiency! I thought I was the only one so thoroughly enamored with efficiency as to do this kind of stuff.

But, why does the microwave have to beep so loudly when you press buttons and when it’s done? I’ll know when time’s up - the inside light goes off and the whirring stops. All the beeping does is wake the baby! So, if there are any home appliance designers out there - turn off the beeping, or give me the option to. Think about it.

Rob Poitras 13 Apr 06

But, why does the microwave have to beep so loudly when you press buttons and when it’s done? I’ll know when time’s up - the inside light goes off and the whirring stops. All the beeping does is wake the baby! So, if there are any home appliance designers out there - turn off the beeping, or give me the option to. Think about it.

I go back to the microwave in the last few seconds and hit cancel to stop the cooking and clear out the last second of time.

tj 13 Apr 06

I go back to the microwave in the last few seconds and hit cancel to stop the cooking and clear out the last second of time.

Me too. But only because the beeping literally wakes the baby. Death to beeping!

busse 13 Apr 06

My microwave has a “dinner plate” button — the only thing I’ve used it for is General Tso’s chicken but it does a great job with that.

(btw Jason & Matt, thanks for the link!)

Andrew Brown 13 Apr 06

On “irregardless”:

It is a word, just ask webster.com. I know what you’re thinking, but hey, someone has to be the foremost authority on what is or isn’t a word. For me it’s webster.com. It’s like the using the dictionary to settle a dispute when playing a game of scrabble.

Here’s what they have to say about it: “The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however.”

marvinlewis 13 Apr 06

aye, some of the words that have been collected on our white board:
kickbacking, corporately, utilize, productized, polarizable, followership, towards

just because someone has a definition for it doesn’t mean one should use it. learn how to write good! :)

Bryce 13 Apr 06

One of my favorite words is ‘irregardful’ (which, of course, means ‘regardless.’) Say it with slow, drawn out comedic effect…

tal 15 Apr 06

subduction leads to orogeny

MM 16 Apr 06

Good one tal ;)

ismael celis 17 Apr 06

Funny that many spanish/french common words are extremely fancy in english: “litoral” is comonly used in spanish and has the same meaning. Same with “Orthography” (ortografía in spanish) which means “spelling”. And so many more I just forgot.

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