Friday, May 26, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I guess Firefox is just too popular for my taste. I'm switching to Camino! Actually, I'm just giving Camino a test drive. After all, Greasemonkey contributes a great deal to making Firefox the coolest browser in the world. We'll see where this goes. Heck, I could still wind up with OmniWeb or Opera.
Monday, May 15, 2006
In a new article at BusinessWeek (apparently it was written in the future — it's dated seven days from now), they consider the question of whether we're in the midst of another tech bubble, headed for another crash.
The authors say probably not, and I agree with them. While it's true that many new companies are starting up with copycat ideas and little real value, the difference this time is that they are spending next to no money to get started. Innovation in business is just like innovation in nature: a thousand ideas must perish to find one that will propagate to future generations. In this era of cheap startups, there is very little harm in failure. This may prove to be an ideal environment for creating wealth in the Paul Graham sense of the word.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
As a sometime rock star, I can attest to the difficulty of making and receiving phone calls while touring the globe. My cell phone won't work overseas. Every country has its own version of pre-paid phone cards. They're expensive (the last time I was in Europe, I racked up more than $300 in phone calls to Elizabeth). And they're complicated: Every country has its own arcane formula of prefixes, country codes, area codes, exchanges, and extensions. The friendly robotic instructions will often not be in the language of your choice.
Those days are over. SMC has announced a WiFi phone with embedded Skype. Skype is a popular software system for making free calls over the Internet. They have a service for making calls to other Skype users and to regular telephones, and they have a service that gives your Skype account an ordinary phone number that people can use to call you from any phone. To this point, Skype has been a tool for nerds who like to keep their laptop computers around them at all times. With the advent of SMC's new phone, you won't need a computer at all to make and receive calls from anywhere.
There is a major caveat, of course: you have to have access to a WiFi network to make or receive calls. This isn't so bad, especially with the proliferation of Internet cafés worldwide. And it's only a matter of time before ubiquitous wireless Internet access blankets the earth.
Monday, May 08, 2006
A software project manager who shall remain nameless was staffing up a new team. We were standing in line together at a hamburger cookout and after some small talk he asked me if I knew any software engineers looking for work.
“I know of one, but he is really unlikable,” I said.
Said the manager, “If he’s good, his personality doesn’t matter.”
He went on to drive his project into the ground. I wish I was making this up.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Saturday, May 06, 2006
My wife and child are in San Antonio for the weekend, so I'm left alone to — what else? — write code! I have embarked on a 36-hour code jam with Objective-C and Cocoa. I'm attempting to build a personal finance application for my own use that may turn into something more.
If you want to write apps for OS X and you'd like to be productive in a hurry, I super highly recommend watching this video tutorial from Apple that demonstrates building an application with a technology called Core Data. Core Data was introduced with Tiger (aka OS X 10.4) and is just monstrously useful. With the information in the tutorial alone, you can write a zillion simple, handy apps.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I came up with a technique for my whiteboard that is working really well for me:
I have a list of the major tasks that still need doing, the ones that would take more than a day to complete. Right next to it on the same whiteboard, I put a list of little things that I would like to complete today. Every morning when you're ready to get to work, you mentally decompose the big items into a handful of next actions and put them on your TODAY list. Ask yourself the following question: "What is the list of accomplishments that I could truly feel good about having finished by the end of the day?" Like you, I am easily distracted, but now when I catch myself being swallowed by NetNewsWire (thanks Brent!) or http://developer.apple.com/documentation/, I just turn my head a few degrees and look at my list. Then I latch onto something and grind through it.
It has been really important for me to have this list on a whiteboard staring me in the face. I have tried Trac and some other software tools, but I find it's far too easy to drop a ticket into the system and let it languish indefinitely. Physically crossing things off feels good, especially the big ticket items.
I have read David Allen's "Getting Things Done," and I recommend it highly. You can get a lot out of it even if you don't implement the full system, which requires a ton of discipline, and I haven't ventured that far yet. The book reinforces a lot of ideas that weren't new to me, but what was new to me was the idea that we can free ourselves from the nagging and stressful voice inside our heads that is constantly inducing us to panic because the library books are overdue and the gutters are clogged and the car needs an oil change and your son's 2nd birthday is in two weeks and on and on. I have always taken this voice for granted, a necessary evil of complicated times. The prospect of gaining back all the energy you waste worrying about 150 things at once is truly liberating.