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Showing posts from August, 2012

When is enough, enough?

I have a daily standup meeting as part of my Agile Project Management process. But when I look at my calendar... on my desktop and my phone I see the time blocked off. Normally this would not be a real difficulty except that these 130-odd events look more like crumbs than slices of bread. Real and possibly important meetings are no longer visible as these events are in the way. The best way to handle this is to have a separate calendar for the daily events.

This might seem obvious but it's actually a microcosm of other issues. As I have worked for companies or projects with a 24x7 mentality or requirement it's too easy to be inundated with nonsensical or non-priority alerts of which services like mailgun and loggly are examples. These systems and your own systems may generate gobs of messages but if they are not consumed in context they will only serve to disrupt and distract rather than alert.

So when you're building an alert or log messages... make sure that the ERROR or C…

When Art Meets Social

The Art of Unix Programming talks about how applications or systems are made from much smaller components and they are stitched together. Kevlin Henney did a presentation where he talked about the discovery of the pipe (|) character in unix systems. The key idea is construction or assembly from smaller parts and it's also dangerous. In the context of my local system the unix way is awesome. The stitching of apps together to make systems is useful, helpful, easy, and pragmatic.

The new challenge is that many of the new startups want to do the exact same thing. For example; trello.com wants to integrate with your google drive account.  LinkedIn and WordPress want to connect to your Box account to share files. PragProg.com wants to connect to your DropBox account in order to upload your eBooks. EverNote connects to a number of different services. Instapaper and Readability; as well as a number of RSS readers.... It's just crazy the number of overlapping systems that if they were w…

Linux Distros are Becoming More Like Windows...

It's hard to admit but it's happening and you can see it in the likes of Ubuntu 12.04 desktop (and earlier releases too) as well as Fedora 17. The first indicator was the need for advanced 3D video drivers in order to support the new desktop goodies. Sound like Aero/Glass yet?

This morning while I was updating a client's Ubuntu 12.04 server was that there seemed to be a request to convert /etc/resolv.conf to /etc/resolveconf. This might seem like a subtle change but when you read the manpage for resolvconf you realize that your server is going to be running a few more daemons that you previously didn't need. (I do not know enough about resolvconf and I'm certain the author would not be wasting our time but it feels wrong that we need a daemon where the traditional methods worked fine)

I watched a talk recently where the speaker pointed me to this doc. The interesting point is that the original Unix distro was only 10K lines of code. This speaks volumes considering th…

DataGrids - a note to the future me

Do not use built-in controls like DataGrids unless you are NEVER going to change or customize or integrate them with the likes of BootStrap or Boilerplate. In the end you'll find that it's going to take a lot more work to convert the code. It's just the way it is. (anyone remember the Win32 API wars?)

The Real Three Questions

(1) what do Microsoft, Apple, and Java (in the form of Eclipse, NetBeans and IntelliJ) hope to gain by having such complicated IDEs with so many dependent artifacts?

(2) if all apps were moved to the web, irrespective of the "cloud" attributes will ever be free of the desktop app tools?

(3) most *nix desktop apps appear juvenile or even retro compared to modern Windows and OSX apps; and even some java apps. Will they ever look modern and can they do it without all the cruft required by Microsoft and Apple?

The answers seem obvious to me, however, I'd prefer to hear your response before I give you mine. I thought about giving a hint but that would be too easy.

First year salary at a new job

The next time you find yourself having trouble negotiating your new salary and you cannot get the employer to up the ante 50 to 10% then ask yourself if there is a middle-man like a recruiter or agent in between.

For as many horror stories as there are out there; there are also great examples of recruiters that really know their business, their clients business, the marketplace, cost of living, relocation costs and plenty of other supporting details. The problem is that all of these recruiters or headhunters are getting about the same compensation.  And that compensation is based on your first year's wages.

One such company wanted to offer a lower base salary with a prorated annual bonus. With significant increases in the second year and beyond. Another company had a higher base salary but had a lower bonus and only paid half of the health insurance premium.

But this is what you can take to the bank. Before the company starts the interviewing and hiring process someone in management …

Second and third thoughts about "the cloud"

I've been running iStatMenus and Little Snitch for quite a while. When I first started using these tools I wanted to know what my computer and the installed software was doing.  That included everything from Apple as well as the commercial and open source software I had installed. In a way Little Snitch was a dual authentication for outbound connections and iStat gave me useful indication of the resources currently in play.

Now that I have installed Mountain Lion and Little Snitch 3 (beta) I'm starting to watch my system more closely again. The first thing that caught my attention is that Google Chrome, Google Drive and DropBox are chatty. Yes, I have a few extensions installed on my browser like Google Voice, goo.gl, Mail Notify, GTalk, Google Calendar, Google Task. What the hell are they doing?
If silence were golden then network silence should be platinum.
When I quit Chrome, Drive and DropBox there are still examples of apps that are talking to the network. But Why?  I just w…

The web of trust is an evil illusion

I did not like how this article was taking shape so I'm starting over. I have a very serious two-part question for everyone.

(Q) Do you install adhoc(non commercial) binary files on your computer?
(Q) Do you install adhoc(non commercial) binary files on your computer with administrator privileges?

In the OpenSource world (no the world that Richard Stallman visits) not all source code is treated the same. For example there are some projects that are source code only (no make files), there are others with source and make files but no docs, and there are others that are so complicated or big to install that you have to install the binary (X11 is a great example); and others still have DEEP dependencies that are not automated.

It's also important to note that not all operating systems are treated the same. OSX provides Xcode virtually free of charge. The *nix systems have free and commercial toolsets. Visual Studio for Windows, on the other hand, is not free (there is an express versi…

High Frequency Trading Lacks Real Discipline

Or let me word it this way. Programmers who build and support high frequency trading systems lack any discipline and quite possibly impulse control. In my estimation they are no different than day traders who are desperate to make a buck a fraction at a time. Market Makers are no different and cut from the same cloth.

I recently interviewed with 4 different Quant and Market Maker companies in CT, NY, and NJ. I took personality tests, IQ tests, math acuity tests, programming tests, multiple phone interviews, and day long onsite interviews. As for the 15 onsite face to face interviews only 2 brought written questions and only 1 actually read my resume in advance of the interview. And all of them asked fermi questions, save one.

There are an amazing number of other similarities:

(a) The number of PhDs
(b) The number of transactions
(c) The same general approach to HFT
(d) The same general org chart and functional diversification
(e) The same approach to development, testing, and deployment
(f) T…

Apple Batteries

Between my iPhone that just simply does not last 8hours while in NYC and my 1.4Ghz MacBook Air that does not last 6hours I'm just frustrated to no end. Part of the problem in NYC is that there are so many WiFi base stations in proximity at any given time that my phone is either trying to talk to or google maps is using in order to sense it's location that I can see how and why the batteries are so bad. You'd think with the population of NYC and the concentration of iPhones that it would not be an issue for me.

As for the MBA I have no explanation. I was on a plane with wifi and bluetooth turned off. I was writing some code in a small console window and watching some video. I did not have the brightness turned all the way up either. Problematic about Apple is that they are extremely secretive about things other companies might be proactive about... like telling me my batteries need to be replaced... before the warranties run out.

I'll say it again, as much as I like my Ap…

The next big thing in programming languages?

I've been troubled with the thought of what's next. The Python3 and Perl6 teams have been busy trying to sell themselves and the next best thing. Java has been accelerating, Go is a viable choice, even C has been getting into the act. There are also a number of JVM based languages like Scala, Clojure, Racket, IO and a few others. And then there are languages like erlang, haskell, and even prolog is making a comeback. The challenge is that each of these languages serves a niche or some overlapping niches but none serve it's master.

I'm thinking that the time has come for serious language translation.  We need a language definition that Donald Knuth would consider self documenting and yet robust and speedy enough for the most demanding tasks and terse enough for the laziest of our profession.

We need the Esperanto of programming languages. Or we need a way to convert whole programs from one language to another much the way that google translate works but for programming la…