Category Archives: misc

Ambition

While attending my niece’s birthday party yesterday, I overheard my grandfather and brother-in-law’s grandfather chat as they watched my toddling nephew run around. These two men have seen economic booms and depressions. They’ve been in war. They’ve labored physically, raised families, and built legacies for themselves.

Here’s the brief exchange:

In-law: “I wish I had half the ambition of that little boy.”

Grandpa: “I bet at one time you probably did.”

“You think so?”

“You wouldn’t have made it this long if you didn’t.”

Developer Entitlement

Last Thursday, Apple’s developer site (ADC) abruptly went into maintenance mode. It’s not uncommon for the site to be put into maintenance while Apple pushes new tools and evaluation software out to developers. The maintenance window became uncommon when it lingered into Friday. As early as Friday afternoon, the tone from developers was turning from curiosity to speculation, with hints of anger and demands for updates from Apple.

What’s interesting to note at this juncture is that one of the most common topics amongst iOS and Mac developers lately is that of App Store economics and user entitlement. Experienced developers have all encountered users who believe the exchange of mere pennies initiates a contract where developers are beholden for lifetime updates and improvements.

Astonishingly, many of Saturday and Sunday’s posts about the outage on ADN and Twitter were from developers who seemed to believe Apple owed them an explanation. Developers who will casually complain about entitled users began hypocritically demanding answers from Apple about why the portal was down. Finally, Apple sent an email to members of their development programs Sunday afternoon, explaining the site had been taken down Thursday after attempts to gain access to developer data were detected. Here’s the first paragraph, as available Sunday evening:

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.

Somehow this explanation wasn’t enough for some. The company whose shoulders thousands of individuals and businesses have built their own fortunes on is inexplicably required to provide details and disclosure of system attacks while mediation and triage are under way.

Insane.

It has become obvious which of the talking heads have been in a war room situation where a large system is under attack and those who have really only deployed PHP to servers in their basement. The $99 that developers pay doesn’t entitle anybody to realtime feedback on the health and status of any of Apple’s systems. Compared to the cost of operating those systems, developing the devices and software that make them important, and after-hours time that was put in this weekend, that measly hundred bucks is pretty insignificant. Distribute it across the full year, and $0.27 a day is significantly less than the anecdotal cup of coffee many developers compare their software to when arguing about the price of building apps.

Being Too Cautious

Last night I made a shocking discovery as I caught up on my ADN feed:

@thaddeus
thaddeus *shudder* I think I might agree with something RMS wrote. I need to re-read it in the morning to be sure.

After re-reading his comments this morning, I was right. I have found a case where I agree with Stallman.

It is certainly possible to be “too cautious”. In the US, that’s
standard practice. How else can one describe what they did today,
paralyzing an entire large metropolitan area to search one
neighborhood for a fugitive? In the US, just say the word “terrorist”
and lots of people start being way too cautious, and the TSA eats it
up.

Richard Stallman response to Boston Police efforts

Timeless Technology

Last night, I listened to President Obama address the nation following the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect. His remarks were heard following a press conference by the Massachusetts State Police.

I listened to both of these segments on AM radio in my Jeep, because all of the local FM stations continued to appease the needs of Bieber fans and commercials.

I tuned into the first station that wasn’t broadcasting a baseball game; it was obvious when I found a station reporting news, so I stopped on that spot on the dial. 1

After both press conferences concluded, the national rebroadcast was paused for station identification. “This is 84 WHAS, Louisville.” Louisville? As the crow flies, Free Map Tools says I’m 385 miles away from WHAS.

The rate our world is evolving is unmistakable, but it’s humbling to see a technology invented at the turn of the last century continue to perform so exceptionally over large distances.

  1. Sadly, my radio doesn’t have a dial. It’s digital, and the lack of adjustment is very apparent, especially on AM.

Bottom of the Ninth

[Rube Benton, Cincinnati NL (baseball)]  (LOC)

“Whoever is pitching the bottom of the 9th better have some idea what they’re doing.” – Scott Willsey on ADN

Every position is absolutely critical to the baseball team. Infielders are directly responsible for preventing runners on base from making it home. Outfielders must recover hits that make it past the infield and quickly get the ball back in. A catcher is the final barrier between a runner and his victorious descent on the plate. Even though these positions are all critical, it is the pitcher who shoulders the game. A good pitcher controls more than where the ball is delivered to the batter. Good pitchers control the rhythm and emotion of the game.

Because of this responsibility, no other position on the team is so quickly replaced. The shortstop or center fielder are rarely pulled mid-inning, but pitchers who find themselves struggling are quickly swapped for somebody in the bullpen. When this happens, the reliever must carry his usual game-directing responsibilities, as well as the challenge of correcting the mess he’s inherited.

Some pitchers are able to throw a complete game occasionally. It isn’t by chance they’re able to do this: they’ve practiced and have refined their skills to the highest level. Other pitchers excel at saving games, and possess the mental strength to focus on the immediate task of retiring batters and keeping runners on base. The approach of each is different, especially depending on the stage of the game; pitching in the first inning is very different than trying to stop the bleeding after the stretch.

Now imagine that instead of pitching a baseball game, you’re leading the development of a software project. Everybody on the team is critical to getting the project shipped. A sleepy tester in left field could be disastrous for the project, especially late in the game when it’s difficult to recover. Having an all-star designer on third base won’t matter if your clumsy marketer on second can’t turn a double play. You have to be part of a great team, and that team has a technical core.

If you’re in charge of delivering the software, you’re on the mound. It doesn’t matter if you were the starter or got called up as the reliever late in the game. The project is on your shoulders; you set the rhythm for the project1 and steer the course for how it comes together. To win, you have to prepare, know the game and your opponent, and be able to focus on the immediate task of shipping software.

  1. Regardless of how hard your PM tries to make you to go faster