best endtimes ever

“Thinking like a painter” does not prevent Anne from making a significant technical innovation in the context of her fourth-grade computer culture. She is familiar with the idea of using two sprites to form a compound object. Her classmates and teachers have always done this by putting the sprites side by side. Anne’s program is like theirs in using two sprites, one for the screen, one for the bird. But she places them on top of each other so that they occupy the same space. Instead of thinking of compound objects as a way of getting a picture to be bigger, she thinks of compound objects as a way of getting sprites to exhibit a greater complexity of behavior, an altogether more subtle concept.

Thus, Anne’s level of technical expertise is as dazzling in its manipulation of ideas as in its visual effects. She has become familiar with the idea of data structures by inventing a new one — her “screened bird.” She has learned her way around a set of mathematical ideas through manipulating angles, shapes, rates, and coordinates in her program. As a bricoleur, her path into this technical knowledge is not through structural design, but through the pleasures of letting effects emerge. …

Do programmers “graduate” from bricolage when they develop greater expertise? Will Anne become a structure programmer in junior high? Our observations suggest that, with experience, bricoleurs reap the benefits of their long explorations, so that they may appear more “decisive” and like planners when they program on familiar terrain. And of course, they get better at “faking it.” But the negotiating style resurfaces when they confront something challenging or are asked to try something new. Bricolage is a way to organize work. It is not a stage in a progression to a superior form. Indeed, there is a culture of adult programming virtuosos, the hacker culture, that would recognize many elements of the bricolage style as their own. And interviews with graduate students in computer science turned up highly skilled bricoleurs, most of them aware that their style was “countercultural.”

In the case of computation, the existence of the countercultural style challenges the idea of one privileged, “mature” approach to problems. This challenge is supported by countercultural styles in other domains, for example, those observed by Gilligan in the domain of moral reasoning.

Sherry Turkle & Seymour Papert, Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete
One memory from the early days of my current job is a developer who got so mired in this mindset that the founders literally ordered him to fly from Sydney to San Francisco where he could talk to some real customers, the people who had bought his product and, while they might have the occasional gripe, mostly wanted to tell him how awesome it was, and how it was helping them.
Charles Miller, Software development sucks


… But I’m asking you to give this show a chance. I’ve seen the whole season, and it’s blown me away. Friends of mine who were initially watching just because they knew it was Chris’s show and they thought they ought to watch out of friend duty have told me they were surprised by how invested they’ve become in the characters. The writers—who hail from Mad Men to The Sopranos to Southland—take Gordon and Donna and Joe and Cameron in directions you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the pilot. There are subversively intelligent people, and there are LGBT people, and there are women who wear pants, and there are men who cry, and there are people who try to be someone they’re not. (This scene, gorgeously gif-ed, is actually so very stunningly sad when you watch it in context.) …

I started watching the first episode of this when they advertised the pre-premiere preview on Tumblr and… turned it off immediately for the silly title card, which explains the name, which is necessary if you don’t know what it’s referring to and sounds a little like non-technical word salad if you do.

Yet really it’s about the premise of the show and who cares if it’s worded strangely when it’s a show about these characters. I heard several good things about the show* and decided if I heard one more I’d give it another chance, then saw this post.

It’s too bad they just removed the first episode for streaming on, which is where I watched it on the last night it was available, then the next day seasons-passed it on the iTunes. You should try it if you get the chance. Just keep your eyes closed until the armadillo shows up.

* At least one of which was Kottke’s post here that has the title card at the top of it.

Whether programmers are over- or underpaid usually gets into debates about economics and market conditions and, because those variables fluctuate and can’t be measured precisely enough, the “are programmers (under|over)-paid?” debate usually ends up coming down to subjective feelings rather than anything technical.

Using this technical notion of status – whether a person’s flaws or positive traits are given focus – we have the tools to assess the social status of programmers without comparing their salaries and work conditions to what we feel they “deserve”. If you are in a position where people emphasize your flaws and overlook your achievements, you have low social status (even if you make $200,000 per year, which only means efforts to cut your job will come faster).

Michael O Church, How the Other Half Works: an Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers
Before you object that these things do help you be more productive: I believe you. I do. But when you’re writing a new web app on top of two frameworks, two template systems, three “pre-compilers,” a half-dozen “helper” modules and everything all of those rely on, you’re taking a lot on faith. Prioritizing development speed over all else is a fantastic way to accumulate technical debt. I’ve heard the problems this causes described as “changing your plane’s engines while you’re in flight.” In a couple years the #1 killer for companies in this situation may just be “slower” startups that took the time to get the damn engine design right in the first place.
Coyote Tracks: Ferret-induced developer fatigue 

Disney Picks 11 Tech and Media Firms for Startup-Accelerator Program »

The 11 companies selected to participate in the Disney Accelerator program are:

  • Buzzstarter: billed as the world’s first scalable, programmatic content-marketing platform
  • ChoreMonster: web and mobile platform that makes chores fun for kids and turns parents into superheroes
  • Codarica: provides a kid-focused introduction to world of computer programming with help from characters Cody Coder and Holly Hacker
  • Cogo: provides video monetization solutions for content creators
  • Jogg: lets users gather, edit and share video and other content from their devices
  • Sphero: develops a “connected play” system that lets users create robots controlled with a smart device
  • Sidelines: sources high-quality online discussions from a team of 400-plus experts, and distributes these discussions to publishers based on relevance
  • SnowShoe: created an interactive-play system with “magical” pieces of plastic that interact with touchscreens to create a bridge between physical items and digital content
  • Twigtale: provides parents with personalized expert advice for major childhood transitions
  • TYFFON: an entertainment app-development company and creator of the ZombieBooth series with more than 25 million total downloads
  • Ubooly: a learning toy that talks and listens to kids that can be customized to know a child’s name, teach lessons and more.

That’s what makes these fiascoes so unsettling—somebody is getting driven to financial ruin and having their wildest dreams crushed.

What’s far more troubling, though, is that each failed convention yields a group of gobsmacked fans, who believe they’ve witnessed an unprecedented, unrepeatable debacle. Which makes sense, if you think about it. The odds aren’t great that My Little Pony fans would know about WrestleFanFest. Minecraft gamers aren’t likely to remember a Star Trek convention from over 30 years ago. So fandom as a whole is never fully inoculated against this problem….

Dashcon, and what you can do about it (via fluffy)