The Filter (week of May 19) 37signals 19 May 2006

1 comment Latest by random8r

Some interesting comments posted this week at Signal vs. Noise:

What the software industry is missing

sj 15 May 06
The cool thing about discipline, though, is that it’s end result isn’t constraining, but liberating. Discipline is an instrument for freedom.

Gary R Boodhoo 16 May 06
discipline == constraints
Like setting your camera to f5.6 1/120 sec. with a 55mm lens and shooting that way for a day. The contraints are arbitrary. The process + results are not.

Don Schenck 16 May 06
On the personal level, discipline is vital to success. Seldom — and it’s the wild exception — does one meet a successful person who does not have the discipline needed to reach their success.

Real world Getting Real: Navy Seals, hurry up offenses, Shakespeare, etc.

Paul Cooper 16 May 06
At the Birmingham Lions ( - a UK university american football team) we’ve had to ‘get real’ (although we started doing that 3 years ago, before I discoverd svn). Unlike a US college where football may be the biggest revenue generator, and they have full time coaching staff, and equipment managers, AV guys, medical help, and daily contact with their athletes, we get 3 training sessions (total 7 hours) a week, and since we don’t have any scholarships we can’t force the guys to turn (not that you want to be forcing people to play football but you know what I mean).

So, in Getting Real speak, we had to embrace constraints, we had to get rid of some sacred cows. Every offseseason we look at our playbook, our practice organisation, etc, and ask how we can simplify. What plays do we have in the play book that we never run, or aren’t successful - why is that and can we get rid of it.

Chris Plough 16 May 06
I do some Shakespearian acting. In addition, he (and the actors who later wrote down his scripts) would incorporate acting notes directly into the script by capitalizing, intentionally misspelling or otherwise emphasizing certain words. A great way to convey a lot of information without adding any footnotes or small type!

Don’t scar on the first cut

Baeck 16 May 06
Unfortunately, most employees (or employers) seek to use policy as a whip to keep their employees in line and make them as inflexible as possible. Either that, or they use policy as a crutch to avoid actually thinking for themselves. i.e. - “You can’t take this Friday off because Monday is a holiday, even though you’ve already worked 40 hours this week.”

When implemented in this way, policy becomes a cancer within the organization. It drives free-thinking people away, but keeps those who can adhere to the letter of the law and nothing more. Often, those remaining people lack the flexibility that makes a nimble organization, resulting in slower growth or total failure.

Alex Bunardzic 16 May 06
This is I believe what David was talking about. He was talking about cultivation, and its result — culture.

The real problem arises in large companies — not large judging by the number of employees, but large judging by the number of people who join and leave the company each month, quarter, year.

Faced with such situation, the company has no other choice but to instigate policies and procedures. Yes, the old timers probably don’t need those, but the army of new hires needs it badly.

So the solution is to cultivate long-term relationship with your staff. Simple.

Dealing with comment threads at blogs

Ryan 17 May 06
The best form of blog comments is the one that best suits the purpose of the blog…

If anything, most blog comments are already too permissive. I like Philip Greenspun’s approach in ACS — you answer a series of questions before you can even get to a comment entry screen. From clicking “Add a comment” at the bottom of a page at

“I just want to say whether I liked this page or not: Add a rating. “I have an alternative perspective to contribute that will be of interest to other readers of this page two or three years from now: Add a persistent comment. “This page did not answer a question I expected it to answer: Ask a question. “I just want to send some email: Send email to author or maintainer. “

John Zeratsky 17 May 06
My friend Taylor insists on having nested comments. It works well:

Small Biz 101: Digg is Your Marketing Secret Weapon

Ryan Carson 17 May 06
This post isn’t about spamming Digg. It’s about finding ways to promote valuable content. You may think your article is great, but if no one reads it, it means jack shit.

If you’ve got an article that’s valuable for readers, who cares if you, or someone else submits it to Digg.

Suggesting an article to Digg is exactly that, a suggestion. Let the crowds decide if it’s worth reading. If you’re the only guy that diggs an article, it’ll never reach the front page.

Jamie Tibbetts 17 May 06
There is nothing wrong with digging your own articles. Morality? Ethics? Etiquette? Please. It’s, folks, not fine dining. The site is a collection of stories. If you think your story is valuable, it doesn’t matter if you or someone else posts it.

Who cares 17 May 06
The people that praise these kinds of posts have no idea what they’re doing online in the first place. Getting dugg means a bunch of web geeks are reading your stuff, that’s all. Getting tagged on delicious means a bunch of web geeks are bookmarking your shit. SO. Unless you are selling something web geeks want, ie a chat app or a to do list (la-T-fuckin-DA) it doesn’t mean anything. Try doing business in the real world, and not marketing to a bunch of bunnies all ready to sign up for your latest simple minded application and then tell me how getting dugg is a valuable marketing tool.

jf 17 May 06
If you think your post can be valuable to somebody, post it.. digg it—where it on a t-shirt—sky write it—run a commercial—whatever is legal to get people to visit you—-it’s a free country—-people will come…if they like you they’ll come back. if they dont, they wont. End of rant.

Studio shot

RonaldB 19 May 06
I did a quick google for “photography light tent” and found a number of interesting links: couple of “build-your-own-light-tent” descriptions, one using typical water/plumbing PVC pipe for the frame and a white bed sheet. There are also commercial products from Cloud Dome and EZCube.

Lights could be 5000K fluorescent tube or compact lights; these are said to be quite close to daylight (a search for “5000k” should lead to some more info). They won’t be really easy to come by, though; you’d need to find a specialist supplier.

“Professional” is a buzzword

Geoff B 18 May 06
There’s a great Paul Graham essay on this

Kathy Sierra had a blog post where she comments on the essay…

A great quote: “When you evolve out of start-up mode and start worrying about being professional and dignified, you only lose capabilities. You don’t add anything… you only take away. Dignity is deadly.”

That said, I don’t mind the word “professionalism” in reference to a high personal standard at work - it’s the trappings of professionalism - ie., the fakery, that’s bad.

joshua strebel 18 May 06
“Using the label “Professional Web Design” does not make us expensive; it makes us accountable.”

That’s how I see it, our clients pay more because we are accountable to them, our name, our reputation, and our business hinges on our “professionalism”. We charge mid- to top tier rates, and our clients expect “professional” service for thier dollars.

Thibault B. 19 May 06
For me a professional is somebody who know how to do his job done right the first time.

1 comment so far

random8r 19 May 06

That constraints breed “getting things done” is obvious. If you want to get somewhere, you need to set a Goal. A Goal *is* a constraint. It’s a forward-reaching constraint, yet it’s still a constraint, nonetheless.

That we are not intelligent enough to be able to work within limitless limits is also fairly obvious. ;-) Hence our need for constraints in every way. We are at a construction/destruction appreciation point in our society. We need to be attempting to get to a resolution/synthesis point.

One needs day if one wants to appreciate night. One needs limits to appreciate limitlessness (usually termed “creativity”). When one can appreciate the limitlessness of limits simultaneously to the limits of limitlessness, one has arrived somewhere… somewhere which paradoxically is a point where every single place is the same place, every moment speaks the same sound, and a smile appears on one’s face when one remembers this and oneself. Enjoyment is present.