28 Dec

The Kernel – The golden age of the developer

There’s never been a better time to be a developer. Thanks to an unprecedented range of open-source software, learning resources and useful web services at our disposal, we can learn new languages, get help, collaborate with others and, if our ideas win traction, there’s now a multitude of investors waiting in the wings to help us build companies around our products.

This is not to say that our work is easy. Standards must remain high. But the resources available offer us the opportunity to move faster and make even more progress. The nature of innovation means that many of our ideas will not succeed, making determination vital for seeing ideas through. But the opportunity is here, my friends. We are the kingmakers.

The good news is that this golden age has made you the developer you are and will continue to help you. The even better news is that you have the chance now to, in the slightly emetic language of the Valley, “pay it forward”.

via The Kernel – The golden age of the developer. I’m trying to do more of this moving forward even in little bits and pieces I think help me stand out as a developer and it’s good to help the community which provides the basis of so much of my daily income (CakePHP, jQuery, etc).

16 Dec

The Year of C.E.O. Failures Explained – NYTimes.com

Last spring, I taught a class at the Columbia Business School called “What Makes a Hit a Hit—and a Flop a Flop.” I focused on consumer-tech success stories and disasters.

I distinctly remember the day I focused on products that were rushed to market when they were full of bugs — and the company knew it (can you say “BlackBerry Storm?”). I sagely told my class full of twentysomethings that I was proud to talk to them now, when they were young and impressionable — that I hoped I could instill some sense of Doing What’s Right before they became corrupted by the corporate world.

But it was too late.

To my astonishment, hands shot up all over the room. These budding chief executives wound up telling me, politely, that I was wrong. That there’s a solid business case for shipping half-finished software. “You get the revenue flowing,” one young lady told me. “You don’t want to let your investors down, right? You can always fix the software later.”

You can always fix the software later. Wow.

That’s right. Use your customers as beta testers. Don’t worry about burning them. Don’t worry about souring them on your company name forever. There will always be more customers where those came from, right?

That “ignore the customer” approach hasn’t worked out so well for Hewlett-Packard, Netflix and Cisco. All three suffered enormous public black eyes. All three looked like they had no idea what they were doing.

Maybe all of those M.B.A.’s pouring into the workplace know something we don’t. Maybe there’s actually a shrewd master plan that the common folk can’t even fathom.

But maybe, too, there’s a solid business case to be made for factoring public reaction and the customer’s interest into big business decisions. And maybe, just maybe, that idea will become other C.E.O.s’ 2011 New Year’s resolution.

via NYTimes.com – The Year of C.E.O. Failures Explained. I’m not certain if business school teach that only thing matters is the profit you can make or if it is the result of something else. However, business schools seem to create an environment that rewards not making happy customers, not doing the ethical thing, not doing the thing that protects the environment down the road. One of the ways in which Apple succeeds is by releasing products when they are fully finished and not half-baked.

14 Dec

John Kary – git 1.7.8 changes for the everyday developer

git 1.7.8 was released a little over a week ago. You can view the 1.7.8 release notes for a full list of changes.

Most changes will probably not affect your every day use of git, but a few new features should be useful.

via John Kary – git 1.7.8 changes for the everyday developer. Some small but useful changes to Git, git grep now being able to search untracked files in particular is useful.

13 Dec

BBC News – Cambridge University puts Isaac Newton papers online

The notebooks in which Sir Isaac Newton worked out the theories on which much classical science is based have been put online by Cambridge University.

More than 4,000 pages have been scanned, including his annotated copy of Principia Mathematica, containing Newton’s laws of motion and gravity.

Newton wrote mainly in Latin and Greek, the scientific language of his time, and was reluctant to publish.

The university plans to put almost all of its Newton collection online.

The papers mark the launch of the Cambridge Digital Library project to digitise its collections.

As well as Principia and Newton’s college notebooks, the Newton Papers section of the online library contains his “Waste Book”.

The large notebook was inherited from his stepfather, and scholars believe it helped Newton to make significant breakthroughs in the field of calculus.

via BBC News – Cambridge University puts Isaac Newton papers online. One of the geniuses of all time.

12 Dec

Adblock Plus – Allowing acceptable ads in Adblock Plus

Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising that is considered not annoying. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable.

via Adblock Plus – Allowing acceptable ads in Adblock Plus. I’m all onboard with this, in fact I’ve even written my own Adblock Plus filters to enable ads that are both interesting and un-intrusive.

11 Dec

O’Reilly Radar – The end of social

Taking this a couple of steps further, the article points out that, to many people, Facebook’s "frictionless" sharing doesn’t enhance sharing; it makes sharing meaningless. Let’s go back to music: It is meaningful if I tell you that I really like the avant-garde music by Olivier Messiaen. It’s also meaningful to confess that I sometimes relax by listening to Pink Floyd. But if this kind of communication is replaced by a constant pipeline of what’s queued up in Spotify, it all becomes meaningless. There’s no "sharing" at all. Frictionless sharing isn’t better sharing; it’s the absence of sharing. There’s something about the friction, the need to work, the one-on-one contact, that makes the sharing real, not just some cyber phenomenon. If you want to tell me what you listen to, I care. But if it’s just a feed in some social application that’s constantly updated without your volition, why do I care? It’s just another form of spam, particularly if I’m also receiving thousands of updates every day from hundreds of other friends.

So, what we’re seeing isn’t the expansion of our social network; it’s the shrinking of what and who we care about. My Facebook feed is full of what friends are listening to, what friends are reading, etc. And frankly, I don’t give a damn. I would care if they told me personally; I’d even care if they used a medium as semi-personal as Twitter. The effort required to tweet tells me that someone thought it was important. And I do care about that. I will care much less if Spotify and Rdio integrate with Twitter. I already don’t care about the blizzard of automated tweets from FourSquare.

Automated sharing is giving Facebook a treasure-trove of data, regardless of whether anyone cares. And Facebook will certainly find ways to monetize that data. But the bigger question is whether, by making sharing the default, we are looking at the end of social networks altogether. If a song is shared on Facebook and nobody listens to it, does it make a sound?

via O’Reilly Radar – The end of social. Interesting point, and hard to argue against. The more we share the less value each piece of information has to the people (but not the systems) that we share to.

06 Dec

Ars Technica – Google Earth, other mobile apps leave door open for scripting attacks

In the rush to create mobile apps that work across the leading smartphones and tablets, many developers have leaned heavily on web development tools and use embedded browsers as part of their packaged applications. But security researchers have shown that relying on browser technology in mobile apps—and even some desktop apps—can result in hidden vulnerabilities in those applications that can give an attacker access to local data and device features through cross-site scripting.

via Ars Technica – Google Earth, other mobile apps leave door open for scripting attacks. Oops, just because it doesn’t look like a browser doesn’t mean it doesn’t suffer the same security holes.