Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Red Flag In The Brain Game

This article in BusinessWeek talks about how our (United States) output of engineering and technology profressionals is falling behind that of other contries:

The poor showings should serve as a wake-up call for government, industry, and educators. The output of American computer science programs is plummeting, even while that of Eastern European and Asian schools is rising. China and India, the new global tech powerhouses, are fueled by 900,000 engineering graduates of all types each year, more than triple the number of U.S. grads. Computer science is a key subset of engineering. ``If our talent base weakens, our lead in technology, business, and economics will fade faster than any of us can imagine,'' warns Richard Florida, a professor at George Mason University.

This is part of the reason Your Job Went to India--because there's a lot of smart people working over there..

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Web Development with Style

I love Amy Hoy's blog. Frameworks like Ruby on Rails (and whatever's next) opens up serious web development to a wider audience. Not that Amy couldn't hack perl CGI, Java Servlets, or PHP with the best of them (I don't know). But I can't help but think that people with Amy's sense of style wouldn't necessarily be developing web sites or web applications without tools like Rails.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chess and Memory

I've always been fascinated by memory as it relates to chess. Just how do strong chess players remember all that tactical and strategic information in the constantly changing landscape of the chess board?

But this morning my interest was turned on its ear by two bizarre stories on NPR.

The first was a story about a woman with a near perfect memory. She can remember detailed events from every day of her life since she was 11 years old. Listen to the NPR Story. Here's another story from Discover Magazine on-line.

The second was a story about Chess Boxing, which I guess is all the rage in Europe right now. Here is a link to the World Chess Boxing Organization home page.

The questions for the day might be, "how long is a Chess Boxer's career given the effects boxing might have on memory". Or, "is that woman any good at chess?"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain

This is why your mother-in-law brings you down: She's bad for your brain. Or, to be fair, anybody who's constantly negative and angry is bad for your brain. I've already shown this to my wife..

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

An interesting blurb from Jakob Nielsen about eye movement of users reading web pages

I guess there's not a lot new here:

  • People go straight for the content and ignore the other stuff
  • You've got a small window of opportunity to capture the reader's attention--much like a newspaper.
  • Heatmaps are cool

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rube Goldberg Machines

This video of Japanese Rube Goldberg type machines is making the rounds at work:

My favorite is at 8:37.

This brought back memories of the famous Honda "cog" commercial.

Your pedestal is showing

An interesting discussion on why Enterprise Architecture sucks. This is particularly relevant to me--currently supporting an engineering organization of 200-400 users (depending on who you count how). We're big enough that there are forces pulling towards "enterprisey" solutions.

I'm particularly fond of the model that says the solution is likely to be a loosely coupled federation of lighter weight applications--rather than a single monolithic design. I've been involved in too many projects that were large, lumbering, late, and short on delivery. There's no excuse for this in today's climate of open source platforms, languages, applications, and even implementations of enterprise class frameworks like like CAS, LDAP, OSMQ, etc.

One aspect of this argument that's missing is _evolution_. Delivering the 80% solution is probably optimistic. You're more likely to deliver something much short of that--say 40% and then need to _evolve_ into the 80% solution over time. Towards that end, again, the loosely coupled federation pays off as you can swap out entire sub components if necessary.

Are you sure you want to be mainstream? (Loud Thinking)

David Heinemeier Hansson cautions against Rails becoming "mainstream" in Are you sure you want to be mainstream?

One of the major boat anchors around J2EE's neck is the requirements for backwards compatibility. Did you know that for a J2EE application server to support forward specifications like EJB3 and remain certified, they need to also support all previous EJB standards? This is the price you pay for being "mainstream."

Monday, April 10, 2006

'Red Hat wraps Linux in sh*t,' says new exec | The Register

This is a funny look back at some of Marc Fleury's comments on how "Redhat doesn't create JACK". I used to follow JBoss's activities pretty closely a few years ago when we used it a lot--and we hoped they'd buy us.

You can't study JBoss for more than a few minutes without seeing what kind of character Mark Fleury is. Not that he's good or bad, but he's not the type to "report" to anybody. I don't think he'll be taking up shop with Redhat, regardless of what happens to JBoss as a company. My advice to Marc--take the money and do something else interesting.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Across the USA--Gas Free

I was this close to buying the TDI Jetta--but I didn't like the color, and the emissions were terrible. If I had I could be driving on fry juice like my friend Steve Friesen is doing in the "Friesen Fritter Fired Fossil Fuel Free Drive Across America"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 4, 2006

Saw this article on How Bill Gates works and this bit caught my eye:

The whiteboards in some Microsoft offices have the ability to capture an image and send it up to the computer, almost like a huge Tablet PC. I don't have that right now, but probably I'll get a digital whiteboard in the next year. Today, if there's something up there that's brilliant, I just get out my pen and my Tablet PC and recreate it.

Something tells me that if Steve Jobs thought he needed a digital whiteboard in his office, he would have one right now..

Saturday, April 01, 2006

30 Years of Apple

What's interesting (to me, probably not to you) about this article, 20 Great Momements in Apple History, is that in 1984, I owned more Apple stock than Steve Jobs.