Monday, November 19, 2007


I believe my MacBook Pro running Leopard is close to setting a new personal best for me: almost 20 days of uptime.

13:38 up 19 days, 15:12, 2 users, load averages: 0.86 1.18 1.58
This is pretty good for a notebook computer. In this time I've taken it to the east coast and back, installed/removed various pieces of software, joined and unjoined various wired and wireless networks, and put it to sleep and woke it up one or more times each day.

I never got this sort of stability out of Tiger--I needed to reboot every few weeks for one reason or another. I never ever had this sort of stability with Windows. Installing software on Windows usually causes a reboot, yes? In fact, the Windows XP VM that is running on my MacBook was restarted last Thursday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smart people

This article postulates on why Silicon Valley is the way it is (it's the smart people).
Paul's thesis is that it takes the right people – nothing more. "If you could get the right ten thousand people to move from Silicon Valley to Buffalo," he says, "Buffalo would become Silicon Valley." In a footnote he adds that perhaps the number of people you need could be as low as 500 or so.
I know I've seen something similar with our Ft. Collins, CO engineering office. The entire area is populated with smart technical people for various reasons. One can start a company there and staff it with smart people easier than Clovis/Fresno--even though Ft. Collins itself is 1/4 the population.

This concept applies to companies too. If you can hire a critical mass of smart people, you can do great things. If you can't..

Monday, November 12, 2007

Development vs Engineering

Our whitebox test lead and I debate how to best attract good whitebox testers. The question is, are they "Test Engineers" or "Test Developers?"

The Lean Software Engineering blog writes about difference between software development and software engineering:
Software development:

The system performs function A.

Software engineering:

The system performs function A under operating conditions B with operational performance parameters C with tolerances within the probability distribution D and reliability within the probability distribution E and we are legally responsible if it doesn’t.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What would you do with 20% of the rest of your life?

A while back I figured out that if I lived to be 80 years old, I only had about 17,000 days left to live. The point being, of course, to make most of it. I told my wife about this, and last night she reminded me. "How many days left do you have now, 15,000?" I said, "No, it hasn't been that long.." We figured it out, I'd said that to her about 6 years ago--more than 2,000 days ago! I thought about that a little more. That's 18% of the rest of my life (when the rest of my life was 17,000 days long).

One must make the most of the time left.

I have added a counter to this blog, on the right side bar, as a reminder of how many days left I have. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to turning 40 next year. As I see it, I've summited. I have no regrets for the past 40 years. I just have to make the most of the next..

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Some interesting stuff about Google's treatment of certain search results for "difficult" words.

Like a lot of people, Google's my spell checker of choice when my in-line spell checkers fail me. Google automatically points to the correct spelling and provides a hint at context within the first few search results as a bonus.

The New Scientist (print edition) has been running a bit about the "commonest typo in the English language" in its Feedback column. The magazine is asking readers to send in search results that show the greatest number of results for common misspellings of English words. Some results?
When Alex Llewelyn searched for "accomodate" he got 6,610,000 hits; "sence" scored 8,040,000 and "definately" logged an incredible 17,400,000. John Lavery's "seperate" also checked in at about 17,000,000..
One reader goes on to point out a flaw with this metric, stating that a common word that is only rarely misspelled might get more hits than a less common word that is often misspelled. Bonus points to anybody who can find words misspelled the greatest percentage of their overall occurrence on the web.