Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Actor Colin Firth on meditation

WHYY in Philadelphia, Terry Gross, Fresh Air, Feb 3 2010:

Starting at 28m mark.

Did you practice meditation?

Not seriously. I just tried to learn to be quiet a little bit. I actually went to a monastery. A Buddhist monastery to learn something about meditation. I have never practiced it with any great discipline, but I did find it to be, even in its probably shallowest and least-disciplined form, I did find it to be somewhat helpful because however fortunate my lifestyle is, it is not always the most restful.

What made you go in the first place to the Buddhist monastery? What did you want?

Restfulness. I've always been very attracted to the randomness and the unpredictability of my profession. I enjoy not knowing what's next. I enjoy the passionate commitment to something that is going to be gone soon. It's a strange creative promiscuity if you like. Where I move on to the next thing and commit myself with equal immersion and delight in something as if the one before just never existed. I think it's very exciting, but it can create this kind of upheaval because there's no continuity. And however thrilled I am by what I'm doing. However stimulated I am by it, it can be difficult to get back to a sort of a core. One of the things you're doing is taking on different people's lives. You're changing character. You're changing personalities. I find it's not always easy to shake them off. Before you shake one off you're taking another one on. I think for an actor getting back to a sense of who you are without all of that I think can be quite a challenge.

This was about 15 or so years ago. There was quite a bit of upheaval on a personal level. I was single at the time and it seemed that I was always at my happiest when I was employed -- I think there's something perfectly healthy about that -- but I was always happiest when I was engaged in something that was distracting me. I think it was, I felt it was time to discover how to celebrate life or to take joy in life when I wasn't distracted.

-end quote-

I don't really relate to the upheaval sentiment. And I'm not an actor. But the constantly distracting myself sentiment resonates with me. It's too bad the interview ended there. I would have liked to hear more about what meditation taught him, and how.

I consider it most likely that mine is a brain chemistry problem. Probably most expeditiously corrected with medication, not years of monastic study. But I have yet to solve that riddle, so don't know for sure. Stay tuned. I should get this one figured out sometime in the next 40 years or so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pipeline evolution

Over the last couple of weeks I've been writing and changing a bunch of software trying to answer some research questions. I find the visual evolution of this pipeline interesting. Maybe you will too.

Sneak peak of the first chart:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

$76M? Thanks Catalyst!

Woot! Catalyst, our favorite Perl web development framework, served us well in 2009:
Over $76 million in revenue was booked through, a 13.5% increase over the previous year; 460,902 room nights were booked during 2009, representing a 28% increase.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 complex that you need a large IDE to comprehend it

This is an excerpt from an thread today.

We're discussing Eliminating Inheritance Via Smalltalk-Style Traits by Curtis "Ovid" Poe.

In his paper, Curtis wrote:
Anyone forced to use "vi" (not even "vim") while trying to create an emergency patch of broken code over a slow telnet connection at 2:30 in the morning is going to get very irritated if your codebase is so complex that you need a large IDE to comprehend it.

Trey wrote:
That is kind of silly. If you're shop is using IDE and developing under that sort of framework, your support people should be familiar with the code and the methods used to program it/maintain it.

Agreed. And have the capacity to perform emergency maintenance remotely via whatever means are necessary to do so.

I don't think he's arguing that slow Internet connections are a good idea. I think he's saying they happen.

Trey wrote:
That's sort of like saying that somebody is going to be irritated because they can't stoke up a hydroelectric plant with bellows...So what??

I love your analogy. :) So what? So your business is losing money in the scenario he describes.

I see this an indictment of relying too heavily on fancy developer tools to gloss over crappy code. If my code sucks in text form, but when I right-click on it a million lines of code in my IDE jumps to my rescue and explains it to me in pretty colors, then I'm helpless without that IDE. That sounds like a bad idea.

In the stack of technology ignorance and dependency I've planted my flag here:

- I don't really know or care about sub-atomic particles.
- I don't really know or care how electrons flow through conductors.
- I don't really know or care about chip design.
- I don't really know or care how hard drives, memory, and monitors actually work.
- I don't really know or care how the Linux kernel works.
- I don't really know or care how perl is written (in C).
- I don't really know or care how most of perl's core packages work (in Perl/XS/C).
- I don't really know deeply or care how most of the CPAN modules I use work (in Perl/XS/C).
- I know EXACTLY how the text of the Perl I wrote works. I do recursive grep's through text files to find out anything I need to know.
- Syntax highlighting is a crutch for the weak.
- Method auto-discovery is a crutch for the weak.
- Per-keystroke debugging is a crutch for the weak.
- Re-runnable images of crashes are a crutch for the weak.
- All that other fancy crap in your IDE is fancy crap I don't need. For the weak. :)

Objectively, my gut-opinions about exactly where that line is are silly. Aren't they?

If you take me and my Apple laptop running to ssh into a server and run vi, and next to me you sit a .NET guy running the latest Visual Studio on a mapped drive; is the total complexity of my dependency stack much smaller than his? (OS X is how many millions of lines of code?)

I don't know. I've now spent an hour arguing with myself about it. :)

In any event, I don't thing it's the use or avoidance of an IDE that makes good or poor code. You can create beautiful or ugly code with the simplest or fanciest of tools.

I do think he has a point. If your "...codebase is so complex that you need a large IDE to comprehend it." Then you're doing something wrong. Use an IDE because you want to, not because it's impossible to survive your mess without it.

/me shakes his fist at XML Spy addicts