Monday, August 27, 2007

Holding a Program in One's Head

Another good essay by Paul Graham:

Holding a Program in One's Head

I'm not sure I totally agree with this part:
Don't have multiple people editing the same piece of code. You never understand other people's code as well as your own. No matter how thoroughly you've read it, you've only read it, not written it. So if a piece of code is written by multiple authors, none of them understand it as well as a single author would.
If you want to put several people to work on a project, divide it into components and give each to one person.
I agree you can never understand someone else's code as well as your own. Initially, this is probably good advice, although, even initially, pair programming can be worthwhile. But in the long run, multiple people are going to need to work on the same code. Of course, by this stage it's not in anyone's head anymore anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Web Mail

I'm surprised that so many people put up with the annoying ads inserted into their email by Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Hotmail. When I started using Gmail I never really thought about this issue, but now I'm very thankful that Google doesn't do this kind of advertising.

I guess if you're just using your email for unimportant stuff it's not a big deal. But when you're using it to apply for jobs, or for your work, do you really want stuff like this on your messages?
Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story. Play Sims Stories at Yahoo! Games.
Windows Live Hotmail. Even hotter than before. Get a better look now.
I would guess one reason people don't object is that they don't see it when they're sending a message.

I realize this kind of "viral" marketing can be effective, and when Hotmail first did it, it was a clever thing to do. But nowadays, I just find it offensive. Of course, I find TV commercials offensive too and that won't stop them doing it.

In any case, I'm glad Google doesn't do it. They do some "viral" marketing by suggesting you invite people to join Gmail, but it's fairly unobtrusive. And the ads they show beside Gmail are easy to ignore as well. (And fairly easy to block if you really want to.) And these things are only shown to me, the person getting the free service, rather than to people I'm sending messages to, who shouldn't have to "pay" for my service by viewing ads!

Interestingly, Google, who made a big splash by offering 1 gb of Gmail storage when most people were offering measly amounts like 10mb, is now offering the least amount of storage - "only" 2.8 gb compared to unlimited for Yahoo and AOL, and 5 gb for Hotmail. more...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


This looks interesting:

Jing Project: Visual conversation starts here. Mac or Windows.

Watch the video tour for a quick introduction.

It's from Techsmith who make Snagit and Camtasia - products we use.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Parallels Annoyance

I went to print from Windows running under Parallels on my Mac and it didn't work, although it had in the past. I tried the usual highly intelligent :-) problem solving technique of rebooting (in this case both Windows and the Mac) but it didn't help.

Eventually I remembered that I had switched the printer from USB to Firewire, since the printer (Epson R1800) had come with a Firewire cable and it freed up a USB port.

But ... Parallels doesn't virtualize Firewire, only USB. There are several workarounds but none of them are great since they don't let me use the specific features of the printer.

Now something else made sense. I had wondered why I had an HP postscript printer set up in Windows. I hadn't set it up myself so I assumed some application I had installed had done it, although that didn't make much sense. Now I realize Parallels must have created it as a way to print to Mac printers.

Another workaround is to print to PDF on Windows and then print the PDF from OS X - a bit tedious, but it works.

I may end up moving the printer back to USB, but that'll mean messing with the setup on OS X which I'd rather not have to do.

The reason I wanted to print from Windows was because I was using Canvas, a program that combines many of the capabilities of Photoshop and Illustrator (i.e. both vector and bitmap at the same time). I really like Canvas but it's been somewhat abandoned. The product was bought by ACD who haven't done much with it. There was/is a Mac version but not for Intel, so I'm still using the Windows version. There are rumors of a new Windows version but not Mac. Too bad.

Windows Live Writer

 I'm writing this using the Windows Live Writer beta. Tim Bray has mentioned it a few times in his ongoing blog.

I haven't really felt the need for a separate tool to write blog posts - doing it in the browser seems to work well enough, especially with the real-time spell check in Firefox. But I can't resist trying out new free software :-)

I added this screen shot to test inserting images. That's one area where Blogger can be a bit awkward.

[screenshot removed to allow publishing]

It also looks like you can add tables which I don't think Blogger allows (unless you edit the HTML directly).

Humorously, Live Writer shows "Firefox" as a spelling mistake. (but "Blogger" is ok)

So much for images. When I tried to publish it said "the weblog does not support image publishing". Blogger certainly allows images, so I would interpret that to mean that Live Writer's interface to Blogger doesn't handle images. It did offer to let me configure an FTP site but I wonder how "user friendly" that is for most people. I assume if you use Microsoft Live Spaces for your blog then you can publish images.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Alarming Development : Beautiful Code

Sadly, I would have to agree with this:

Alarming Development : Beautiful Code

But that won't stop me from reading the book, we can still dream of beautiful code :-)