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Bright flashlights may be macho, and they have their uses, but for getting around in the dark it's best to use the dimmest one that gets the job done, and preferably monochrome. Otherwise your rods don't adjust to the dark, and you can't see a thing outside of the narrow shaft of light. Or if you insist on being macho, use the bright flashlight and wear an eye patch.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2013 on Updating Your Utility Belt at Coding Horror
I agree on having a specification, and I don't think you need Gruber's blessing. In fact, it may be healthiest at this point for the community to diverge from its origins. Extensions are a must-have in the specification. There are some sites that require source code, and other sites where source code markup makes no sense. If nothing else, extensions allow the core to remain fixed as new use cases pop up, and allow experimental changes that may ultimately migrate to the core. One of the things that has allowed HTML to age gracefully is that the behavior for unknown elements is well-defined, so new elements can be added in a manner that doesn't break on older browsers.
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2012 on The Future of Markdown at Coding Horror
@BoltBait: "You can't build an iPad app with an iPad." Not true: CargoBot was written entirely with Codea, a Lua IDE for the iPad. I've used Codea to teach my nephews programming. (And by "teach" I mean "show them the demo apps and let them play all day." They weren't interested in theory.) I wouldn't recommend it without a Bluetooth keyboard, and even then I much prefer a desktop environment-- mostly because you can't get a Bluetooth Kinesis keyboard. Oh, and getting files moved around in order to build a standalone app is a pain, but that's because of Apple's policies.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2012 on The PC is Over at Coding Horror
It seems to me that PHP took off because someone who doesn't know how to code can start with index.html, rename it "index.php", add a variable here and a tweak there, and before you know it you've got Wikipedia. And nobody wants to rewrite that from scratch in a new language. You could do the same thing (roughly) with Python, with a few modifications. You'd need a ".pyml" (or whatever) format for embedding Python in HTML-- but then you'd need to convince all the web hosts to include it. (Which might not be that hard, if there's enough demand: they nearly all support Python.) The thing that's hardest to replicate is the ecosystem around the language: starter guides and how-tos that assume little or no programming knowledge. But perhaps a StackExchange site could help with that. As a replacement for PHP, Python seems to be the best language: it was designed for beginners (kids, actually) while still being reasonable for use by real software engineers. I'm not a big Python fan, but having used both, I'd take it over PHP in a heartbeat. The other language worth considering is JavaScript. Being able to use the same language client-side and server-side makes a lot of sense in terms of reducing the learning curve. It seems a little odd that Jeff would take on the project of killing PHP when he doesn't want non-programmers to program ( ). I can't imagine him succeeding with a negative attitude toward his core audience. Still, I can't complain if all we get is a halfway decent PHP alternative that gets used by a few high-profile open source projects.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2012 on The PHP Singularity at Coding Horror
I should add, by way of context, that my children are still small enough for me to carry, so the letter to my grandchildren is to as-yet-completely-hypothetical grandchildren, so it shouldn't get read for another 40 years. I'm pretty sure today's ECMAScript will still be readable in 40 years. After all, it took over 10 years for browser makers to fully implement CSS.
I have a hypothesis that the Internet Archive will make my personal web pages accessible hundreds of years from now. I'm testing this with letters I'm writing to my descendents. The one to my grandchildren is here: and a little context is here: One of the issues is writing a program that will run correctly for the first time 50 to 200 years from now. That's so that my letter is scrambled to discourage casual reading by unintended recipients. The intended recipients might not be technically savvy, so uncompiled C is out. My guess is that today's ECMAScript will still run in 200 years. My reasoning is at:
Security is hard. There's just a whole lot you need to think about. Using HTTPS everywhere means you have one less decision you need to make. It may not be a panacea, but it means you're less likely to accidentally not use it when you should.
Great idea, Matías. How about one on politics? That encourages civil discourse between people with divergent views? I can see a Nobel Peace Prize there for Jeff if it takes off. Or if that's too tricky, how about a StackExchange for general make-the-world-a-better-place problem solving?
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2011 on The Gamification at Coding Horror
I think you (like many people) miss the point of most self-help books. They're motivational, not instructional. The measure of success isn't whether they tell you anything you didn't already know; it's whether or not you are reminded or inspired to do what you already knew you needed to do. 99% of the wisdom in the world boils down to "take care of yourself and others." Love thy neighbor, the Golden Rule; it's all restatements of the same wisdom. There are even several variations within the motivational poster "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." But people don't just learn this stuff as kids and become angels. They need constant reminders. (Some more than others.) And even good people need their own hypocrisy pointed out to them regularly.
I disagree with the developers as vampires notion. It reinforces the dangerous stereotype that programmers do better when they stay up late. Dangerous because most (read: neurotypical) programmers are better off keeping normal hours-- and all programmers should try to be well-rested, regardless of their preferred hours. When I've had a really good night's sleep, I'm at least five times as productive as normal. When I haven't slept well, I'm more likely to add bugs than to fix them. And if I work late, there's an event horizon after which I can save time by going to sleep. There's a lot of scientific research on the effects of sleep on attention/focus. Programmers would do well to keep up with it. Especially this: just as the first casualty of war is the truth, the first casualty of sleep deprivation is the part of your brain that can notice sleep deprivation.
As someone who usability tests IVRs (automated phone systems) for a living, I have to say that speech recognition currently works very well, given the right domain. The same could be said for keyboards, mice, trackpads, touch screens, etc. What constitutes a niche depends on your perspective. You probably physically touch dozens of computers a day, of which only a few have a keyboard and a mouse/trackpad. Just today I've used a car, a Playstation 3 (a.k.a. Blu-Ray player), a digital watch/heart rate monitor, an alarm clock, a Palm Pre, a microwave oven, a VOIP phone, and a Mac Pro. Clearly the Mac is a niche in my daily experience. The interesting thing about speech is that it's conversational. In our tests, we've found that for a good voice app, accuracy above about 75% doesn't improve the user experience. Why? A good app will prompt you to repeat, often with suggestions on how to improve accuracy. This isn't burdensome for the user, since it's the same thing that humans do when they can't understand what you say. Indeed, the target for a speech app shouldn't be perfect recognition, it should be to be within the ballpark of a human listener-- along with an error recovery script that's also as good as a human. The problem with your critique of speech recognition is that it's complaining that speech doesn't work where it's an inappropriate input mechanism. That's a tautology. I, for one, am glad I don't need a mouse and keyboard to operate my microwave oven, car, and digital watch. That doesn't make them bad technology, just inappropriate for the use case. is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 21, 2010