Cargo Cult Programming

I love the term Cargo Cult Programming. I complain about it from time to time, but I have to admit I'm guilty of it. Worse, I'm guilty of pushing other people to do it. All in the interest of time.

That said, isn't Cargo Cult Programming related to the promise or reusable software components? Isn't that concept supposed to provide me with little black box components that I just hook up to and expect the functionality they promise? Maybe Cargo Cult Programming is the ultimate manifestation of reusable software.

My torches are lit...

Microsoft 180s on forcing you to Longhorn to get IE 7

Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Changes Course: New Standalone IE for XP Planned reports that Gates announced at the RSA Conference that they would make a stand-alone version of IE 7. Broad speculation on its features is occurring on Slashdot. I'm guessing that Firefox can continue to outpace IE. I will be shocked if there is any advanced features like themes or plug-ins. Why? They're a big company and their product (IE) now has a huge code base. Plus, they integrated the damn thing into the Windows shell, so there is no way they're going to go out on a limb with new features. With as many security problems as they've had, plug-ins would be the kiss of death.


Koders - Source Code Search Engine

The Koders search engine just now hit my radar. This is a really cool concept. It allows you to search solely on source code. It also allows you to select a license type if you have a preference.

Thank you Koders team, THANK YOU!!!


Reclaim Your Attention Span

Surviving the Bit Infinity at goodexperience.com comments on a NYT article about how people, especially Microsoft, are looking into ways to prevent as many interruptions from technology as possible. I find this incredibly ironic because Microsoft is the company that brought us Clippy and most lately those DAMNED XP UI BALLOONS!

Taskbar Balloon


Disecting Google Maps

Curious about how Google Maps works? Here's a great article about the magic under the covers. This guy's done an excellent job of documenting the inner workings from the client side.

The Human Adapter

I have to create a PowerPoint presentation that has many pages that require tables. Unfortunately, PowerPoint's table editing functionality isn't up to snuff with some of it's other features. For instance, the tables don't automatically resize to fit their containers. So, when you have a table that gets too big for the box on the slide, Powerpoint just makes your box bigger instead of scaling the text and cell sizes. This is ROYAL PAIN when you are trying to create a table on the fly and you don't know how big it's going to get.

So, I'm working around that. I'm creating my table in Excel and pasting it into the slide. When I do this, PowerPoint 2003 automagically converts my Excel table to a PowerPoint table. When it does this, it resizes the table to fit to the best of its ability. It's easier to create my table in Excel because I can just go hog wild with resizing, lengthening, etc.

Isn't this hysterical? I really almost started laughing out loud when I realized how jacked up this is. I'm a human adapter. I'm resolving the impedance mismatch between the requirements around creating a table on the fly and how the software actually works.

I then started thinking about how often I actually do this. I do it all the time. I create my diagrams in Visio and paste them into PowerPoint and Word because those products have completely impotent drawing tools. I often edit text in Emacs and pull it into Word and format it. Word's text manipulation capabilities suck and Emacs doesn't do formatting only content.

What happened to the idea of our environments having all these little components that do one thing really well and they all just plug together? What happened to Taligent? Yeah, I know, but I'm talking about the idea of Pink.

In fact, why can't Emacs's incredible editing engine just be a component that I, as a user, tell the system to plug in wherever an editor is needed? I could use the engine as a mail editor, Word editor, etc. (Ignore speed of startup and other current limitations - come on, think outside the box with me.) I want components that I know how to use and they travel with me. Excel is my table plug-in, period. Visio is my drawing plug-in, period. If you're an artist, maybe Freehand is your drawing plug-in.

Ok, back to reality. Emacs, Excel, Visio, and PowerPoint call. Four tools to make one presentation because I refuse to have my requirements cheapened by your inability to meet them.