February 9th, 2013
I read not one but two pretty good pieces today on the practicalities of developing software. I'm not a software developer by any stretch of the imagination but I have just enough of a programmer's mindset to appreciate the amount of effort it takes to think through all the little bits and pieces that make a bit of software usable as well as functional:
- Hilton Lipschitz has made multiple posts exploring the decisions he made in designing his app TimeToCall. He covers the whole process, from his having the idea to write an app to help users arrange telephone conferences across time zones, right up to the point of polishing minor but important user interface details about translating the phrases used in the Japanese language localisation of the app without breaking his user interface.
- Mark Bernstein posted a piece describing the amount of thought that had to be put into adding a tab bar to Tinderbox. This is more focussed on a single user interface element than the Lipschitz piece: multiply the number of design considerations Bernstein describes for his one feature by the number of steps in the project Lipschitz recounts and you start to realise just how many decisions go into the making of even a comparatively simple application.
Neither article is aimed solely at programmers by any means – Lipschitz and Bernstein both explain in plain English the problems they're trying to resolve and the pros and cons of the different approaches they considered, so I think even people who've never written a line of code in their life will have no problem following either post.
One more, unrelated thing (courtesy of Hilton Lipschitz's Twitter feed). If you have access to a command line, go to it right now and type either tracert 220.127.116.11 (if you're running Windows) or traceroute 18.104.22.168 (for the rest of us.) Then watch and wait…
[Hilton Lipschitz posts via Brett Terpstra. I'm afraid I can't remember where I saw a link to Mark Bernstein's post.]
February 28th, 2012
I've seen any number of links over the last few days to The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order but only got round to reading it today.
I've got to admit, his argument makes a hell of a lot of sense.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
If you're thinking of introducing a youngling to the Star Wars saga, you owe it to yourself – and to them – to consider what this man says.
Don't let your loved ones' first memories of Star Wars be sullied by the presence of Jar-Jar Binks. Or midichlorians. Or trade disputes. Or Jake Lloyd.
[Via The Tao of Mac]
September 12th, 2011
Lt. Col. Dan Ward, USAF urges military procurement professionals to heed the lessons of the Death Stars:
The truth is, Death Stars are about as practical as a metal bikini. Sure, they look cool, but they aren't very sensible. Specifically, Death Stars can't possibly be built on time or on budget, require pathological leadership styles and, as we've noted, keep getting blown up. Also, nobody can build enough of them to make a real difference in the field.
The bottom line: Death Stars are unaffordable. Whether we're talking about a fictional galaxy far, far away or the all too real conditions here on Planet Earth, a Death Star program will cost more than it is worth. The investment on this scale is unsustainable and is completely lost when a wamp-rat-hunting farmboy takes a lucky shot. When one station represents the entire fleet (or even 5 percent of the fleet), we've put too many eggs in that basket and are well on our way to failing someone for the last time.
The answer isn't to build more, partly because we can't and partly because the underlying concept is so critically flawed. Instead of building Death Stars, we should imitate the most successful technology in the saga: R2-D2.
July 4th, 2011
It would appear that an Imperial probe droid has located Greenpeace's secret base on Hoth:
Greenpeace spokeswoman Leila Dean says in a statement: "Almost two million people have already watched our campaign ad, which is a light hearted way of telling the truth about Volkswagen and their opposition to climate change laws. The film has been hugely successful having been shared more than any other advert in the last 24 hours. We're disappointed that it has been taken down and we're hoping it's just a case of some rogue droids and that many more people will be able to watch the film soon."
June 29th, 2011
Greenpeace want us to know that Volkswagen has gone over to the Dark Side.
[Via Pop Loser]
May 11th, 2011
Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says – Galactic Empire Times:
Obi-Wan Kenobi's demise is a defining moment in the stormtrooper-led fight against terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who turned against the Empire at the end of the Clone Wars. What remains to be seen, however, is whether it galvanizes Kenobi's followers by turning him into a martyr or serves as a turning of the page in the war against the Rebel Alliance and gives further impetus to Emperor Palpatine to step up Stormtrooper recruitment.
In an earlier statement issued to the press, Kenobi boasted that striking him down could make him "more powerful than you could possibly imagine."
[Via Ghost in the Machine]
April 26th, 2011
April 23rd, 2011
For the record, I prefer CollegeHumor's Galactic Empire State of Mind to the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys original.
March 29th, 2011
February 23rd, 2011
Chris Wahl's Chewie and Han T-shirt: a classic.
December 4th, 2010
Translation from PR-speak to Star-Wars-speak of Selected Portions of Amazon's Message Regarding Their Termination of Wikileaks an an AWS Customer:
Amazon Web Services (AWS) rents computer infrastructure on a self-service basis.
I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money.
AWS does not pre-screen its customers, but it does have terms of service that must be followed.
Let's just say we'd like to avoid any Imperial entanglements.
July 13th, 2010
I feel a disturbance in the horse…
(Hang on: doesn't Vader usually hold his light sabre in that hand? No wonder the horse looks so surprised.)
November 22nd, 2009
September 19th, 2009
Tesco's corporate communications department earned their money this week.
Daniel Jones, also known by his Jedi name Morda Hehol, was asked to leave a Tesco store after he refused to remove his hood. He's claiming that the tenets of his religion require him to wear a hood in public, as thus Tesco breached his right to religious freedom. The firm's response:
Tesco said: "He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods."
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.
"If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."
Nicely done, though if it were up to me I'd have dropped that last line. Ending on the implication that perhaps Morda Hehol is a Sith would have been much better IMHO. But then, I suppose the firm felt it just had to remind us all that they have lots of special offers. You know, just in case we'd all forgotten that Tesco are a supermarket chain.
[Via Feeling Listless Miniblog]
May 1st, 2009
If you visit a Star Wars weekend you can get a taste of the Dark Side.
(From this collection of posters produced by Disney as a promotional tool.)
December 9th, 2008
Carrie Fisher remembers making Star Wars:
Even now, many years later, people are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big a hit. Yes, of course I knew. We all knew.
The only one who didn't was the director, George Lucas. We kept it from him because we wanted to see what his face looked like when it changed expression.
Not only was he virtually expressionless in those days, but he also hardly talked at all. His only two directions in the first film were 'faster' and 'more intense'.
Shortly after I arrived, he gave me this unbelievably idiotic hairstyle. He said in his little voice: 'Well, what do you think of it?'
I was terrified I was going to be fired for being too fat, so I said: 'I love it.' Yeah, right.
I weighed about 105lb at the time but carried about 50 of those in my face.
So you know what a good idea would be? Give me a hairstyle that further widens my already wide face.
Her anecdotes in the same extract about growing up as the offspring of celebrity parents are really funny; I might have to keep an eye out for her new autobiography when it comes out in paperback.
October 18th, 2008
The Star Wars prequels got Jar-Jar Binks: the video games got HK-47. Definitely not a fair trade, as this page of HK-47's best lines clearly demonstrates:
"I would have congratulated him, if he had not been sizzling and incoherent at the time."
"His wife must have done something to truly upset him. I was ordered to terminate his wife, and any male companion with her."
"Statement: Just when I believe my photoreceptors have recorded the last potential aspect of your cruelty to my memory core, you commit a new atrocity that leaves me analyzing its impact for days."
"Clarification: Itâ€™s just that,you have all these squishy parts master! And all that water! How the constant sloshing doesnâ€™t drive you mad, I have no idea."
"Expletive: Damn it Master, I'm an assasination droid, not a dictionary!"
"Recitation: First, weapon selection is critical. If I see one more idiot attacking a Jedi with a blaster pistol, then I'll kill them myself."
"Statement: Oh do shut up, you beeping little trash compactor."
"Definition: 'Love' is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Statement: This definition, I am told, is subject to interpretation. Obviously, love is a matter of odds. Not many meatbags could make such a shot, and fewer would derive love from it. Yet for me, love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticle, and together, achieving a singular purpose, against statistically long odds."