polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others  

20070130.0909 Well shut my mouth... 

So I suppose I can no longer shoot my mouth off enough to offend a nuclear power.  Thanks to perlmonks and one motivated developer in particular, my general location has been given up to the extent that a nuke could take me out...

20070119.0910 To plug or not to plug

 Here's an example of the sort of thing I started ranting about two weeks ago - the idea of mixing marketing hype with technical information and developer training material.  Crystal Xcelsius, which is a really good product in itself, has a couple of associated quick tours in the training section of the web site.  What's with the cheerleader voice-over?  "Wow", "impressive" and "that's amazing!", etc... come now - is that truly necessary?  

IMHO it cheapens the experience and detracts from a very decent product that I'm trying to learn to use.  That kind of thing needs to be kept in the product plugging sections.  In this case it is tantamount to putting a laugh-track background in a sitcom.  Do people really need audio cues to let them know when to be impressed?  The product should speak for itself.  What galls me most is that it does.  You don't need it.

If you've ever read the snow report on the Killington ski resort web site you may be acquainted with the phrase "World's Most Extensive Snowmaking System", since I think they have a rule or something that it always has to be shoehorned in there somewhere - if they're using it or not.

Companies like Oracle do the same thing with phrases like "world class database" or whatever in their developer documentation.  Here I am, trying to learn how to use their products and I'm being told over and over in the literature how good it is.  That's some aggressive propaganda.  It's conditioning.  Put your brain into a receptive "learning" mode & remember marketing phrases...  Is their marketing department in the editorial loop just before the legal department or something?

I'm not so ridiculous as to think that marketing materials are ever going away - I'm just saying that there's a time and a place for everything.  You can wing that stuff in my face all day long at a trade show..  That would be appropriate.  Keep it out of the technical writing please.

 20070115.1535 My phone, your phone, iPhone

SO the big question isn't about IF everyone wants an iPhone...  Technolust abounds.  The Big Question for the geeks is Where's The iPhone's Software Development Kit?

And along that line of thinking What's The Steve's take on all of this?

 Because it seems to me that we're not looking at a wide open platform here.  We don't see a lot of 3rd party application software running on iPods now because it's not an open platform.  You can play solitare so it must have some processing power, but we're not allowed to have at it.   Long gone are the days of the influence of The Woz and the 'ship it with a toolkit' mentality.

If we buy into the idea that a toolkit will eventually be made available and that maybe we'll be implementing game engines on these things or something then here's a list of technologies that you might be interested in drilling down on.  I think it's a safe assumption that writing Java-based applications won't be anything like an immediate possibility. 

I would probably add Dashcode to the list, since that will at least point you in the direction of how this kind of thing will likely be implemented.

 20070108.1031 Snowballs in the Freezer

So how often is it that it's 70F+ in January in the Northern Hemisphere?

 I know that I've already ranted on this topic recently - but this weekend was ridiculous!  What is going on with the weather?  Can people still have a reasonable doubt that climate change is underway?

I think I might have been inadvertently cursing the fates of a few more ski resorts in the near future.  How many places can afford to make snow & have it repeatedly washed away by rain?  Sure - no snow = no income, however if income < expenses, then you're not going to have a mountain for long, eh?  I've been hearing nasty rumors about staff juggling - which one can only assume is true - at many resorts in response to the warm weather & rain.

The Bigger Problem that we need to face up to is what, if anything can we do about the warming cycle that's going on?  I say 'if anything' because it's not just up to you & I and the people we see every day.  If all of the "first and second world" countries all stopped hydrocarbon emissions completely right now - there's enough pollution from "developing" nations to pick up the slack and keep the current trend going.  Of course, this being true doesn't change the fact that the "civilized world" is barely paying lip-service to the issue, nevermind enacting serious measures.

Add to all of this the political nature of all power-struggles and I don't see how we could get everyone to act responsibly without giving them a way to do so that provides immediate ancillary selfishly motivated benefits.  That is to say that you may invent an ingenious new way to do something - but no one will ever use it unless you show them how to profit from it.

I don't have a solution to the problem - but I know what the solution would look like.  You need to give people a way to use clean energy that is not merely as good as the dead-dinosaurs that we use now but in fact it must be better - a lot better in some way in addition to simply being cleaner.  The addition of another immediate benefit is what you need to sell the solution.

Of course, I don't think that we're only warming.  I'm noticing that we're warming here. For now.  I have to say that one look at the Earth's history from those core samples they're always taking shows that most of the planet's history was Ice Ages.  I have no idea why this was, how it got that way nor how it was undone.  I don't know just how well that process is understood, and given that we can't really truly grok minor decade-long trends I assume that it isn't at all.

So the only prediction I can make is the same one that I have made since I first heard about "Global Warming" years ago - I continue to predict more weird & unseasonable weather patterns.  Record highs, lows, & freak storms will be "normal".  Change comes first gradually & then suddenly...


20070105.1444 Our Product Clearly is Positioned Better...

OMGCUL8RBYE!  Please STOP Speaking!! .....

I'm going to tell you a little story...  Once Upon A Time, in the days of the fledgling computer industry, waaaay back in the 1980's & 90's marketing people and technology people had the common decency  to sit in separate rooms from each other.  Technical specifications were factual.  The spin-doctoring was left to the brochures, which only the PHB's read anyway.

But now the ways of the Old Republic have been swept away.  Civilization has collapsed and now, in the midst of a technology demo, in between acronyms and jargon you have completely subjective self-aggrandizing advertising, propaganda, and spin control.

Let's get something straight here - Perception is NOT Reality.  Reality finds it's basis in Fact.  No facts means no Reality.

Don't put brainwashing catchphrases in the user manual nor in the developer's guides.   It's just as annoying.

If you're applying the 80/20 rule to your software functionality, then don't say that your software does everything that the best of breed competitor does.  List the functions if you have to & let someone else itemize & compare them if you must, but do not be intentionally misleading.

Oh and one last bit of advice to all of you LYING-BASTARD-EMPTY-PROMISE-VENDORS/Software Companies out there...  This one is deep:

"Be Good At ONE thing.  Don't try to be all things to all people.  Do one thing and do it well and build your business on that." - Someone Smart

I sure as hell didn't invent that idea.  But when I look at companies like Micro$oft, and 0racle, and G00gle and I see their development efforts spread far too thinly - I ask out loud - what the hell are they thinking?  This isn't what made you big.  But it will make you pointless...  There's enough historical examples to prove that.


20070105.0906 Climate Change

Any idiot who doesn't think that the climate in North America is steadily growing warmer needs only to look at the financial history and geographical location of the ski resort industry.  Year after year, decade after decade, mountains/hills with lifts close up shop for lack of revenue.  No snow means no income for any given day.

If I could somehow play a time-lapse animation of a map showing ski facilities in the Northeast US, from 1907 to today - you'd start off with the Golden Oldies - hard core spots where lodges were built long before they had found a decent way for people to get to them - and then you'd see them pop up like mushrooms as chairlift technology matured.  This would probably peak in the late 1960's & early 70's after the war ended and the US was still busy basking in the glow of the moonshot.  

Then you'll start to see an invisible line start creeping northward as the lights start to blink out.  Within the last 10 years it's crept as far north in some places as Mount Tom - where the sign on the highway still says "Ski Resort".

I don't need "GoreSat" to provide me with data to prove this "theory" when there's (not so) cold, hard financial data to reflect on right in front of my face.  People like me, who embrace snow as part of our lifestyles are directly impacted by this trend.  The Ski Resort Industry is directly impacted by this trend too.

Many people want to spin this issue in a political way.  What I mean by that is that there are other, more fruit-bearing industries that - failing to adapt - would be negatively impacted by acknowledging the trend officially, whom are acting as an obvious bankroll for a misinformation campaign diluting the message about the dangers of climate change and what exactly we're supposed to do about it.  This same bankroll buys political campaigns and then uses that additional leverage to stall any proactive or progressive measures.

This is not a partisan issue.  This is "red skies in the morning".