Entries for August, 2008

One photo in my recent Portland photo set (which none of you jerks commented on, sheesh THANKS FOR NOTHING) which was severely flawed was the picture of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach:

What's the problem with this picture? There's no friggin' point of reference. It doesn't capture the weirdness of seeing a gigantic rock just sticking out at a beach. It's actually kind of hard for any of you to understand the size of it. So here's a better version of that picture:

The best version of this picture (which I do not have) would have been a single person standing along the beach; that would give you a reference, and remove all those trifling people from the picture. Pictures with one anonymous person in them are generally my favorites.

Currently listening to: bon jovi - runaway
Posted by roy on August 1, 2008 at 12:32 AM in Photography | 3 Comments

A little less me, and a little more music!

Here's a great blues song by Bobby Bland entitled "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City":

You may remember it from Jay-Z's "Heart of the City", which sampled this song; (it was used to great effect in this "American Gangster" trailer ... fast forward to 38 seconds to hear it):

And for some reason, lyrics for this song are hard to come by on the internet:

bobby bland - ain't no love in the heart of the city

ain't no love in the heart of the city
ain't no love in the heart of town
ain't no love and it sure enough is a pity
ain't no love cause you ain't around

when you were mine
i was feeling so good
'cause your love lit up
this old neighbourhood
but now that you're gone
you know the sun don't shine
from the city hall to the county line

and that's why i said:
ain't no love in the heart of the city
ain't no love in the heart of town
ain't no love and it sure enough is a pity
ain't no love cause you ain't around

every place that I go
it seems so strange
without you there
things have changed
when your night-time calls
there's a blanket of gloom
another teardrop falls in my lonely room

Posted by roy on August 4, 2008 at 02:50 AM in Music | 1 Comments

When I was younger, my parents took me to a local fair. At this fair, I got on a car ride that just went around in circles very slowly. Being young and foolish, I jammed the wheel to the left (the ride went counter clockwise) and refused to turn it to the right, for fear of flying off the ride.

True story.

Posted by roy on August 4, 2008 at 07:00 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I think this picture perfectly encapsulates me:

Picture courtesy of Damien

Posted by roy on August 5, 2008 at 10:09 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 5 Comments

jeez, guys. does this idea sound familiar? i have been thinking about rebooting fuunk on top of fb. i wouldn't do the coding, though ... hire some guys to do a proof of concept. alas, time is so lacking....

Posted by roy on August 6, 2008 at 12:25 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Mark Pilgrim put up an excellent post: Placating people with options, which touches upon a reoccuring conversation about Deki. Like most of his posts, the comments thread is immensely interesting, especially this comment:

I think Steven Den Beste summed it up best when he wrote “… if you give away ice cream, eventually a lot of people will complain about the flavors, and others will complain that you aren’t also giving away syrup and whipped cream and nuts.”

Unfortunately one never hears about people not complaining, so it's hard to stand in the face of all the complaints. Anyways, one of the coolest aspects of working on a piece of software like Deki is that I know that it not only improves the lives of people using it, but it also is a tool of social change: it promotes open collaboration and the notion of transparency. To me, it's one of the pleasures of being at MindTouch: the software I influence is a reflection of my beliefs and my ideas. The decisions I help shape can force organizations to change.

In the grand scheme of things, writing has always been very important to the human condition (My one piece of advice to anybody in the world: start writing a blog). The printing press was a monumental achievement in letting written ideas disseminate more rapidly. And the Internet makes the cost of these written ideas close to zero. Now it's about removing the singular voices and replacing them with a chorus of voices, which is where I believe we kick in. This is the social impact we can leave on the world.

To me, that is the essence of a great startup: the ability to impact the world around you, spur social change and to actually improve lives. I think that's what a lot of start-ups miss; they're so concerned with how to turn a buck that they lose sight of their original vision.

Posted by roy on August 6, 2008 at 07:45 PM in Personal | Add a comment

I love watching House, but I hate knowing about those mysterious rare diseases which could afflict me. I just watched the two-part episode from season 2 where Foreman was afflicted by Naegleria.

From Wikipedia:

Naegleria fowleri (also known as the brain eating amoeba) is a free living amoeba typically found in warm fresh water, from 25-35 degrees Celsius (77-95 degrees Fahrenheit) in an amoeboid or temporary flagellate stage. It belongs to a group called the Percolozoa or Heterolobosea.

N. fowleri can invade and attack the human nervous system; although this occurs rarely, such an infection will nearly always result in the death of the victim.

Well, I'm never stepping into warm fresh water again.

(Looks shiftily at my aquarium, which is set at 79 degrees Fahrenheit...)

Posted by roy on August 11, 2008 at 01:21 AM in Loft, Ramblings | 3 Comments

So SJ posted about the hoopla over the fake footprint fireworks from the Olympics. I don't care too much about the hoopla as much as the fact that I cannot find a video of the friggin' show.

The Slashdot article? No link. The Sky article? No link. Telegraph? No dice. CNN? Of course not. At least with Digg, you know one of the first comment is gonna be a link to the video.

Seriously, I find this incredibly annoying. It's 2008 - can we learn to mix videos and stories together? Is it that hard? Especially when you are writing about the video?

Posted by roy on August 12, 2008 at 09:33 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

I try not to dive into mean posts, but I read only particular post today that made me cringe. It highlights the overhyped Laconica as the best thing in technology since sliced bread. I'm not linking to the page, because it really doesn't deserve any attention. I have, however, quoted the relevant portions below.

Because I know the readers of this site actually have a life, I'll explain Laconica in a couple words: shitty PHP self-hosted Twitter clone (with a big emphasis on shitty). Yes, I've looked at the source.

So here we begin:

Identi.ca, the open source and Federated microblogging platform, could very well put Twitter out of business as other businesses begin realizing how they can adopt it.

Let the hyperboles begin.

I realized this today when Jay Ridgeway was able to show how to set up a simple Federated instance of Laconi.ca in just 7 steps.

"Just" 7 steps. As opposed to, say, just 20 steps.

Today I began imagining how others could begin utilizing this technology - essentially it is a technology built to allow other similar systems built on the same technology to talk with each other.

Wait, technologies that talk to each other using the same protocol?! That sounds dangerous and mystical. There can't already be previous examples of this ... wait, how am I on the intarwebz?

Evan Prodromou, the founder of Identi.ca, is not just building another microblogging service. He's developing a standard, along with software that adopts that standard so that you, too can build software that communicates with that standard! This is profound, and in my opinion we haven't seen such innovation and selfless development of new communication techniques since the invention of the web itself. Identi.ca is in many ways building an entirely new, open layer of the internet.

Holy crap. Viva la revolucion! Somebody call Algore. Some guy wrote a PHP script where your data can appear in other people's friends lists! It's a shame nobody's done this already... oh wait. Brad did it with LiveJournal years ago (you can subscribe to any RSS feed through your LJ "friends" list).

However, there is no way currently for me to associate only with those of like tastes and culture. For instance, if I am into college football and you are not, you aren't going to be interested in the details of the games I'm watching. You may be interested though to know I have an interest in college football.

If only could create a website where you could associate with other people with similar interests... I would call such a site "LiveJournal" ... or perhaps ... "Facebook." Maybe the "MySpace" trademark isn't taken. I think this is a good idea. I should go get some VC money.

Now, what if ESPN were to launch a version of Laconi.ca just for sports lovers? It would just take a simple install of Laconi.ca and a little cobranding of their logo, look, and feel and soon an entire community of sports lovers would be sharing their love for sports, communicating back and forth, and showing their other sports-loving friends what they're doing in their sports-loving life.

Yeah, installing a piece of app that's poorly engineered with horrible usability is really going to supplant the millions of dollars ESPN has invested in commenting, forums, live chats ... forreals.

Twitter seems to be completely ignoring this as they shut the doors on developers, try to develop entirely in-house, and build an entirely proprietary system.

Right, cause a self-hosted PHP script on Dreamhost is really going to be doing well once you have hundreds of other scripts calling home to see if you have updated about your peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch. Engineering and scaling is easy! Anybody can do it!

Unless Twitter adopts and opens up in a major way, they will fail.

Yes, says the guy who breathlessly claims he's an Apple fanboy (which, we all know, is a dying company because it's closed off ... oh wait.... no... it's doing quite well by closing off their systems).

Posted by roy on August 13, 2008 at 07:21 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment


Posted by roy on August 13, 2008 at 11:55 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I can say that I've always felt a bit uneasy about the reporting around the South Ossetia War between Georgia & Russia, because it seemed weird that Georgia was painted in such a defenseless light after it started the hostilities in South Ossetia (of course, it is possible the Russians were causing some trouble there to begin with... but I don't buy conspiracy theories). Anyways, the op-end which makes the most sense to me was written by Mikhail Gorbachev, of all people:

By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its "national interest," the United States made a serious blunder. Of course, peace in the Caucasus is in everyone's interest. But it is simply common sense to recognize that Russia is rooted there by common geography and centuries of history. Russia is not seeking territorial expansion, but it has legitimate interests in this region.

Posted by roy on August 16, 2008 at 07:22 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

This post brought to you courtesy of Lunesta.

<flips on Europe's "The Final Countdown">

This week ... code freeze for MindTouch Deki Kilen Woods 8.08, which will have all the tools to help out the sales team. I get a sense that the company story (the culmination of the sales, product, engineering stories) has a sense of fluidity. We still have engineering work items which require lots of oversight, but I'm feeling really good on the timeline (more than I've ever felt).

Mozilla Developer Center might finally launch this week - and it'll finally be off our plate! Woooo! This alone, makes me so happy.

And the last thing is: I'm going to kick things into an even higher gear at work. I have accepted the fact that I will have to be a developer/ developement lead/product manager/director of engineering for now ... while I train others to take my place. I've decided to start becoming more of a "manager" and start doing one-on-ones (as I used to do with my old boss Tom).

For a while, I struggled with my role: I thought that I had sufficiently set up a well-designed process that could run itself, so I stepped away from sherparding the actual product releases. Of course, there was a flaw, and that flaw wasn't realized into far too late ... and the product quality and the product release dates shipped.

I also never managed to distinguish whether my focus should be on tactical or strategic things - I tried too much to be strategic, and that caused me grief the past few months as well. My goal is tactical. As a direng, I am responsible for delivering  tactical victories, not strategic victories. I believe if I had fought back more against the uppers, I could have saved a few weeks of engineering time, which would have gone into the product, which yields a tactical victory every time.

To me, MindTouch's greatest assets is the ability to take our forward-thinking ideas and implement them effectively, on a timely manner.

My personal goals for this week:

  • continue being a nitpicky bastard for the 8.08 release until it's ready to ship (next Tuesday, cross your fingers!)
  • start my one-on-ones with developers this week - this will also have the added benefit that i will know everything that goes on on the engineering side of things, so I can more effectively report back to Aaron and Steve on the state of things, and how it all fits together
  • make this week's developer meeting more useful or cancel it (I had a great track record of meetings last week that were actually of use).
  • organize postmortem and the next product release meetings (the ones where we determine features to include).
  • I will also keep a tight calendar of this upcoming release, breaking down items into per dev/per item, so I can more accurately track work items. We are switching back to a longer developement cycle, so this change is warranted
  • Get some training on the ESX server, since I'll probably be abusing it reaaaaal soon

Ok, these drugs are starting to make my mind wander too much, so I'm gonna pass out.

Yay for reset buttons!

Posted by roy on August 18, 2008 at 12:43 AM in Personal, MindTouch | Add a comment

heeeeeelllloooooo wwwwooooooorrrrrrrrlllllllddddddd
hooooowwww aarrreeeeee yooooouuuuuuu???????

Posted by roy on August 18, 2008 at 09:40 PM | 13 Comments

You'd think being a DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING would gain me a little more 'spect:


Pete, you are OFFICIALLY out of running for "Assistant (to the) Director of Engineering."

Of course, I still reserve the right to grant emergency powers to Pete, ala Dwight:

Currently feeling: sad
Posted by roy on August 19, 2008 at 05:02 PM in MindTouch | 3 Comments

I wasn't a huge X-Files fan, but I saw a fair number of episodes back in the day. I remember the most random episode about a guy who was the target of a secret military test using sound waves as weapons; the guy got a sound wave "stuck" in his head, and the waves amplified inside his skull. The only way he could relieve the pressure was to drive west - Mulder and Scully devised a plan to puncture his ear drum (leaving him deaf in one ear) to "release" the sound waves, but the guy's head exploded when Mulder ran out of highway to drive west.

Anyways, the only respite I seem to have from my insomnia is to write the random thoughts which are bouncing around in my head on this journal. So, in no real order:

. . .

I'm fascinated by the perception of power and its impact on people. If you give off the perception of power, then you have it. So basically if you trick yourself into thinking you have power, then people believe you have power, and then you have power.

. . .

The tragedy of being an adult is you work so hard for a task, and nobody really cares. For example, we just launched Mozilla's Developer Center on Deki (only four months over schedule!), which was a seriously monumental task. But trying to find people (outside of work) to share my joy of releasing this project was ... hard. No one cares. If I wrote a long entry about the work that went into it (which I may), it'd seem like a huge deal ... but nobody understands that without being explained (if they even care about reading it). This leads me to wonder: how many of my (few) friends out there are working their asses off and not getting enough props outside of work? I'm guessing a lot of them.

. . .

I got a letter from my loft managment company saying that the local police think that it's possible they accidentally disclosed all my personal information, and I should be aware of potential identity theft. This just leads me to wonder: who actually wants to steal my identity? To anybody considering being stealing my life: be prepared to have zero game (and hence never get laid). Sadmuffins.

. . .

I find it interesting that my nonsensical posts draw the most comments. Chances of this post receiving more than five comments? Zip. I guess it has something to do something with "digestible" posts (who has time to read novellas, anyways?!)

. . .

One thing that totally sucks about my job is that I oftentimes don't get to give the amount of detailed oversight to some aspect that falls under my auspices. This happens more and more nowadays, but I'm simply overwhelmed with the number of decisions I have to make per day (maybe one of these days, I'll keep a tally). I simply cannot deal with things and simply have to say: "Later." I never thought that'd be possible. Today's:

For example, this morning, I was being flooded with a few problems at once:

  • Triaging bugs from our overnight QA team in Russia
  • Then I got a heads-up that the Moz guys were running into three issues prior to launch, so I was processing all those issues mentally (trying to figure out the soln, or figuring out who would know)
  • My IRC client stopped connecting (wtf)

Then I got an implementation question about exception handling in the control panel. I remember just thinking, "I cannot deal with this" - fortunately, we have very capable devs who are capable of interpreting when I'm overwhelmed, so it was taken off my plate.

I honestly never thought I would be that guy who would coldly have to cut people off - but it really comes down to a matter of not being able to process everything. What's important to other people may be so incredibly unimportant to me (at that moment), that I have to be cold.

As an engineer, I'm used to completely controlilng my little world - the code I write works exactly as I have defined it. The product/engineering decisions I have to make are a lot less concrete and rely on a lot of other factor, and when they screw up (as they ultimately do), I feel incredibly bad. 

For example, I ultimately made the decision to shift our MindTouch store processing to PayPal, due to issues with Authorize.net (and Amazon FPS wasn't active then). We needed to fulfill a bunch of requirements, so I chose what I thought was the best solution. Fast forward a couple of months, and PayPal's API is broken (Direct Payments Pro). And I feel completely responsible for the failures of the store, even though most of the variables were completely out of my control.

And this isn't the only case - almost every single engineering failure, I feel directly responsible for. Every defect I see regarding the product, every other competitor who has "done it better," every customer who has run into problems with any software related to MindTouch - I feel personally responsible.

So I guess it's easier to understand the root of all my stress given that I feel personally responsible anytime any of the other ten+ engineers at MT have bugs in their software.

. . .

Man, there are seriously no shortage of ideas at work lately. Every day, new ideas all over the place. What I've realized is that ideas are worthless. I really used to think that ideas were the real value, but that's so not the case. All that matters is execution. I was mulling over the most "successful" web companies lately (Twitter, Facebook, Yelp) and sometimes they're so simple that everybody's thought of them at some point (sometimes they've even existed before!). Successful execution acts as a multiplier for ideas.

This realization is probably why I'm so frustrated at work lately with some of the ideas being tossed around - great ideas are fine, but unless there's even a inkling of a plan for execution, the idea is worthless. I know that MT has a special engineering team - we are all pretty f'ing smart, and it took us a year full-speed to figure out how to ship an open-source wiki effectively. Even now, we're stretched on resources (I tried to move above the day-to-day fray a bit early, and it bit us in the ass), and I'm honestly not sure how we expect to ship some of the ideas over the next year. Anyhoos..

. . .

My feeling about ideas with a lack of execution also explains my recently-found disdain for "demos." As much as I dislike Apple for their closed mentality, they have had an effective track record for shipping complete end-to-end solutions (iPod, iPhone) without shipping demos. I'm tired of seeing Android demos. I'm sick of seeing things like the Microsoft Surface demo. Please, ship products. I don't care about what I could do ... I want to know what I can do.

To me, companies that build demos can't decide what they want, so they're throw a bunch of things against the wall and see what sticks. Have the balls to have a vision, guys.

. . .

Is it ever possible to build the perfect product the first time? This is an interesting question if you consider my stance on demos above. Steve mentioned that he thought it'd be impossible to build something as great as the iPod or iPhone on the first try - they must have built an internal one, then scrapped the whole thing to find out what they did wrong. Nobody has the foresight to know exactly what needs to be done on the first pass.

If this is true, the true test of a product guy is the ability to say "this sucks" and to throw everything out and start again. This has an impact on project management - how can we ever set definitive schedules if projects are subject to being scrapped at any time?

I certainly don't have that killer instinct in me yet (although I have been known to cull out about half the code before), but it's an idea that's been bouncing around in my head for a while.

. . .

There are a lot of decisions coming up for Deki's product line in terms of procedural - do we move away from the Agile mentality into more of a traditional waterfall methodology? Wish there was a "right" answer, but I know better than that: the right answer can only be found after experimenting with all the different methods...

Currently listening to: matchbox 20 - how far we've come
Posted by roy on August 20, 2008 at 03:11 AM in Ramblings, Web Development, MindTouch | 3 Comments

lulz! (i've said it before, and i'll say it again: i will measure my worth in life by my wikipedia article) if i could only do something worthwhile to get past those pesky wikipedia editors...

more seriously though, has there been much innovation in software for e-governance? seems like the town of chapel hill site is still using that horrid website from a few years back ...

Posted by roy on August 21, 2008 at 04:13 AM in Foolishness | 2 Comments

Here are some recent links I've found interesting:

. . .

I really enjoy Dexter Freebish:


Posted by roy on August 22, 2008 at 12:37 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

When I started Tabulas, I literally knew nothing about best programming practices. All I was interested in was to see how hard it would be make something that was better than Xanga and LiveJournal. Looking back, that naivete about writing webapps was a really good thing in keeping me focused (nowadays, all my "knowledge" about the potential pitfalls about writing/deploying a webapp really hinder my abilities to start up new projects).

So, over the past few years, I've been slowly phasing out "bad" code (written back in '04 when I knew nothing!) in favor of "good" code (code which still has a shelf-life of maybe another six months before I refactor it again). Last week, I finally disabled http://my.tabulas.com/, the old control panel. That means all users are now using the new control panel; coupled with the new front-end, this is finally the Tabulas 2.0 I wrote about back in 2004/2005 (if you're keeping count, this was the third 2.0 version that was promised). (The next step would be to start implementing the promised 2.1 features)

Now that I've finally consolidated the codebase to one single codepath (yes, it was running multiple copies all over the place before!), the next step is the database cleanup.

Right now, I have 96 tables; most which I don't know what they're doing. The naming schema for tables is all over the place, too. For example, the old users table:

CREATE TABLE `users` (
  `userid` mediumint(8) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
  `username` varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
  `user_pass` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
  `user_pass_temp` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
  `password` varchar(12) NOT NULL default '',
  `password2` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
  `email` varchar(64) NOT NULL default '',
  `joined` date NOT NULL default '0000-00-00',
  `code` varchar(11) NOT NULL default '0',
  `status` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `lastlogin` date NOT NULL default '0000-00-00',
  `totalFriends` smallint(5) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
  `userHash` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
  `server` varchar(25) NOT NULL default 'jbiel.tabulas.com',
  `suspended` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `user_history` text NOT NULL,
  `user_cache` text NOT NULL,
  `user_option` text NOT NULL,
  `user_upgrade` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `user_ads` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `userStats` text NOT NULL,
  `userType` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `userHost` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  `userSalt` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
  `userAccounts` text NOT NULL,
  `userIconId` int(10) unsigned default NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY  (`userid`),
  KEY `username` (`username`),
  KEY `email` (`email`)

Oh yeah. Notice the passwords duplication? (That was when I realized storing plaintext passwords was bad - don't worry, there hasn't been any data stored there for a while as I wiped them, but I left the columns active as I didn't want to dive into my old code and remove the column calls). Notice the complete lack of standard naming of the columns? Nice. (Not)

Fortunately, foreseeing this work item, all the current code goes through a layer of abstraction which lets me change the table/column names dynamically once in the code, so updating these tables/columns are relatively easy for me to do.

So today, I cleaned up the users table by naming everything consistently and dropping unused columns. How much data was redundant and unused?

root@host [~/mysql_backups]# ls -al tabulas.users*
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 18432778 Aug 24 21:11 tabulas.users.new.sql
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 26496439 Aug 24 20:53 tabulas.users.sql

... about 30%. crazy.gif God, I'm such a horrible developer. Here's the final structure:

CREATE TABLE `users` (
`user_id` mediumint(8) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
`user_name` varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
`user_email` varchar(64) NOT NULL default '',
`user_status` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
`user_suspended` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
`user_created` date NOT NULL default '0000-00-00',
`user_updated` date NOT NULL default '0000-00-00',
`user_host` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
`user_salt` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
`user_hash` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
`user_pass` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
`user_pass_temp` varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
`user_logins` text NOT NULL,
`user_options` text NOT NULL,
`user_icon_id` int(10) unsigned default NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (`user_id`),
KEY `user_name` (`user_name`),
KEY `user_email` (`user_email`)

Expect a lot more of these posts over the coming weeks as I tackle these changes bit by bit.

And if Tabulas is throwing any errors, let me know.

Posted by roy on August 24, 2008 at 02:36 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | 8 Comments

I had originally heard Flobots' "Handlebars" a couple of months ago, but it was only today I checked out the music video. The video is well done, as it plays off the song's meanings:

The rock/rap with the Cake feel is quite nice...

Posted by roy on August 24, 2008 at 08:51 PM in Music | Add a comment

a wha wha whaaatttttt?

mic check. one. two.

live keeps truckin' on. one battle at a time - you fight and move on. and on and on.

. . .

growing pains at mindtouch hurt, but they're necessary. i'm doing my best to adjust and make sure things run smoothly, but 'tis a tough job. i've been getting increasingly frustrated with a bunch of people, who are misconstruing my tapped-out resources as invitations to work around me. i've been calling people out on it a lot lately, and unfortunately i will have to continue to do so. if you ever wonder how the perception of asshole managers are made, i'm pretty sure this is it. the problem is, as always, information assymetry: i know why someone will have to be blocked, or a particular process is used. but others, who don't have the benefit of interfacing with the rest of the team (and thus knowing the goals of the team), have only their self-interest to guide their decision making. i tried to fix this problem first by using weekly all-hands meetings, but those meetings quickly degraded in value as people used them just to make a laundry list of things they worked on - and again, not their fault! whoever knows the whole story should be weaving it, not the individual strands. le sigh. 

voiced some concerns about the direction of the company (i'm in total sync with the engineering team, but out of sync with everybody else) today - good to air those out. as always, i'm so heads-down dealing with ops that i'm afraid that by skipping out on a few strategy meetings, we'll end up committed to another monstrosity of a project ... the echo chamber is a dangerous place.

historically speaking, i'm the guy who ended up cleaning up the mess made by other people. just once i'd like to be the guy who makes the mess and have somebody else deal with it ... that'd be so nice. (of course, i do this unintentionally, because i have the dev skills of a blind monkey)

quality in software is always a concern - i always wondered why big companies let shitty software get developed - i can see why it happens now, and how we could easily end up down that path. awareness is the first step, though ... so let's hope i can continue to have the energy to drive the team to build the best product possible, release after release.


generally speaking, when you look to invest in assets, you want to buy the best of breed. the best of breeds give you the best returns. (violating many rules of logic) i'm going to apply the same notion to software: the best of breed software is worth exponentially more than the mediocre ones. so i stand firmly in the corner, in full belief that the best thing i can do for mindtouch is to continue to stand up for the excellent of the engineering team, and not to compromise those goals for short-term gains. 

Posted by roy on August 26, 2008 at 04:54 AM | Add a comment

i have now been alive for 9,039 days.

I'm not big on celebrating birthdays, but I may make a big deal out of my 10,000th day (it falls during your 27th year).

Posted by roy on August 26, 2008 at 11:33 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Warning: picking bottoms on stocks is dumb, so don't try it.

I saw an interesting list of 50 SPX stocks that have lost 50% of their value since the S&P 500 high last October. From that list, I culled the stocks I have on my Google Finance "watchlist" - these aren't stocks I necessarily bought, but I added to do some more research. From that list, I culled out the really bad apples (ones where I believe macro trends are just going to crush them, which includes almost all financials, newspapers, and telecoms).

The final list is: TIE, WM, ETFC, VLO, AMD, and GM. (WM is a financial, but I left it on for sentimental reasons). I wonder if a basket of these stocks would outperform the S&P 500 or not.

Posted by roy on August 27, 2008 at 10:44 PM in Finances | Add a comment

(and that includes a whole lot of reading about that hot lady for vice president)

Via Daring Fireball:

27 year old Frisian developer Eric Wijngaard won $275,000 in Google’s Android Developer Challenge for his ‘PicSay’ application.

In an interview with a Dutch website he says he likes Google’s SDK but “What I really wanted to do was develop an iPhone app. The iPhone SDK wasn’t out yet, though.”

Asked what he would do with the cash, his response was “I guess I could invest it in my software company, but first I want to port PicSay to the iPhone.”

That guy is hilarious.

Update: Sanjuro points out that the developer blogged: "Then a reader, probably a devoted iPhone fan, decided to creatively translate parts of one of these articles in English, which started the whole thing."

Rats. It would have been pretty funny had it been true...

Posted by roy on August 29, 2008 at 01:44 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Somehow I missed this meme, but I will make it up by passing it along to you!

During some morning talk show, an interview inexplicably cut to a still of a cat eating spaghetti. Here's a clip from The Soup:

(A spokesman from Fox later explained that this is a "bleep" photo to be used when expletives are muttered. Hilarious!)

Posted by roy on August 30, 2008 at 11:13 PM in Foolishness | Add a comment
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