Programmer happiness is the most important factor in making quality software
“Code is meant to be read by humans first and computers only secondarily — in order to write software that addresses real human needs we need to approach the problem of software development from a more human perspective…Performance is cheap. On the other hand, creating, customizing, and maintaining huge (and hugely complex) bases of inscrutable software code is very expensive. There is increasing sentiment in the software world that we should be happy to take performance hits if it means the process of software development can me made more sustainable, pleasant, and simple.”
The advantages of closing a few doors
”’Predictably Irrational’ is an entertaining look at human foibles like the penchant for keeping too many options open…In a series of experiments, hundreds of students could not bear to let their options vanish, even though it was obviously a dumb strategy.”
Video: "How to Speak"
“In this skillful lecture, Professor Patrick Winston of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers tips on how to give an effective talk, cleverly illustrating his suggestions by using them himself. He emphasizes how to start a lecture, cycling in on the material, using verbal punctuation to indicate transitions, describing ‘near misses’ that strengthen the intended concept, and asking questions. He also talks about using the blackboard, overhead projections, props, and ‘how to stop.’”
The power of micro-specialization
“Become the expert in what you do. Which means micro-specialization. Who is the single-best agent for condos in your zip code? Or for single family homes for large families? Who is the one and the only best person to turn to if you’re looking for investment property in this part of town? As I wrote in The Dip, you’re either the best in the world (where ‘world’ can be a tiny slice of the environment) or you’re invisible. This means being Draconian in your choices. No, you can’t also do a little of this or a little of that. Best in your world means burning your other bridges and obsessing.”
Q&A with graphics director for The NY Times
Steve Duenes, graphics director for The Times, is answering reader questions.
“Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business”
“The word is externalities, a concept that holds that money is not the only scarcity in the world. Chief among the others are your time and respect, two factors that we’ve always known about but have only recently been able to measure properly…There is, presumably, a limited supply of reputation and attention in the world at any point in time. These are the new scarcities — and the world of free exists mostly to acquire these valuable assets for the sake of a business model to be identified later. Free shifts the economy from a focus on only that which can be quantified in dollars and cents to a more realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today.”
Top 10 Mistakes in High Tech Marketing
“Why do so many high tech companies and products fail? We’ve had the opportunity to evaluate the management practices of hundreds of high tech companies and here are the primary reasons…”
Managing product development: “Are your defects like potholes?”
“Defects, especially big ones, slow down other development or fixes. So, what do you do? If you have a ton of defects, I would choose a one-week timebox, and work on fixing them. For me, fixing means developing a fix along with a unit test (or two or three), getting some peer review, and then checking it in so the developer can do some around-the-area testing before system test. I don’t care if the developers write the unit test first, I just care that they write some unit tests. Although, if you’ve got defects, you’ve got the makings of a bunch of great unit tests. I would not allow any development in this timebox, just fixing and checking the fixes in a variety of ways.”
How spiderwebs work
“An orb-spinning spider puts its elegant traps together pretty quickly, proceeding easily from step to step according to the instruction manual preprogrammed into its brain. The diagram below shows the major steps.”