Ephemeralization against the bureaucracy

Segway inventor Dean Kamen unveils his next act, and it’s a doozy. He’s invented two devices to address the power and clean-water problems in the Third World — essentially, a rugged still and a generator that burns cow dung. But the real challenge to conventional thinking is Kamen’s (rightly) contemptuous dismissal of conventional development economics,… Continue reading Ephemeralization against the bureaucracy

Un-ending the Internet

Recently, The Nation ran an article, The End of the Internet, that viewed with alarm some efforts by telephone companies to hack their governing regulations so they can price-discriminate. Their plans include tiered pricing so a consumer’s monthly rate could be tied to the amount of bandwidth actually used. They also want to be able… Continue reading Un-ending the Internet

Free Falling

My friend Howard Tayler, the cartoonist behind Schlock Mercenary, invited me to post this.

Software vs. Art

Jamie Richards asks an intelligent question in response to my essay on deadly genius in the arts: I’m not programming-savvy at all, so maybe this is crap… what do you think about the idea that computer programming is a cultural area operating under the same conditions that set up the “Modernist disruption”? As I understand… Continue reading Software vs. Art

The Web and Identity Goods

InstaPundit writes: This seems to me to suggest that free downloads don’t do much to cannibalize actual [book] sales. I have more (or at least longer-term) experience with this than anyone else. Back in 1991, The New Hacker’s Dictionary was the very first real book (like, with an ISBN) to be released simultaneously in print… Continue reading The Web and Identity Goods

A rant — Why are CSS designers so utterly freaking clueless?

People who put absolute pixel sizes in CSS layouts should be lashed with knouts. I’ve tripped over this problem yet again while moving my blog; I’m using b2, and the default stylesheet shipped with it was obviously produced by some graphics designer who has failed to grasp the fact that there are lots of different… Continue reading A rant — Why are CSS designers so utterly freaking clueless?

An Open Letter To Darl McBride

Mr. McBride: Late yesterday. I learned that you have charged that your company is the victim of an insidious conspiracy masterminded by IBM. You have urged the press and public to believe that the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation and Red Hat and Novell and various Linux enthusiasts are up in arms… Continue reading An Open Letter To Darl McBride

Hacking and Refactoring

In 2001, there was a history-making conference of software-engineering thinkers in Snowbird, Colorado. The product of that meeting was a remarkable document called the Agile Manifesto, a call to overturn many of the assumptions of traditional software development. I was invited to be at Snowbird, but couldn’t make it. Ever since, though, I’ve been sensing… Continue reading Hacking and Refactoring

A Taxonomy of Cognitive Stress

I have been thinking about UI design lately. With some help from my friend Rob Landley, I’ve come up with a classification schema for the levels at which users are willing to invest effort to build competence. The base assumption is that for any given user there is a maximum cognitive load any given user… Continue reading A Taxonomy of Cognitive Stress

Living With Microsoft

In today’s episode of the Microsoft follies, we learned that Media Player 9 is un-uninstallable. Deliberately. A A Microsoft spokesthing confirmed that Media Player 9 is so deeply integrated into the operating system that it cannot be removed without doing a `system restore’. Which, incidentally, will wipe out your Office installation. It’s at times like… Continue reading Living With Microsoft

Right back at ya, Captain

Last Saturday morning in San Diego I had breakfast with Steven den Beste, the redoubtable captain of U.S.S. Clueless. One of the side-effects of that meeting was a long critique of open-source development. Herewith my response. Steve and I agree on the scaling problem that has pushed software development efforts to the ragged edge of… Continue reading Right back at ya, Captain

Run Silent, Go Feep

Warning: The following blog entry provides way more than the recommended daily allowance of geeking. If you don’t have a serious propeller-head streak, surf outta here now before it’s too late. I’m mainly a software guy, but occasionally I build PCs for fun. Design them, rather; the further away I stay from actual hardware the… Continue reading Run Silent, Go Feep

Beating software version fatigue

In his latest Tech Central Station column, Glenn Reynolds complains of `version fatigue’, his accumulating angst over the fact that since the emid-1980s he’s had to migrate through three word processors and several different versions of Windows. I can’t fix the sad fact that every new VCR and remote control you get has a different… Continue reading Beating software version fatigue