Out of The Office

January 29, 2007

Just a quick note — I’ll be in Germany from January 31st through February 12th.  It’s a working trip, so I’ll be available to respond to e-mails and whatnot; otherwise, please excuse my tardiness in responding to your inquiries.  Thanks!


Caboose Obscura

January 21, 2007

Justin and I hit the industrial sections of town today, to take photos with his new pinhole camera. Armed with sheet film of dubious quality, we scrambled around train yards and industrial districts looking for odd and interesting things to shoot.

One of the treasures we located was an abandoned caboose. Old, graffiti’d, and worn … but still reasonably clean, with no trash or bad odors. I had the impression someone was looking after it, although we didn’t find anything that wasn’t supposed to be there: just a wood stove, a couple of folding desks, and a vinyl upholstered bed.  Sparse, but cozy.

I love finding these sorts of things. Neglected pieces of history that aren’t useful or relevant today, so they’re thrown out or abandoned … and rediscovered in unexpected ways.

It’s been a good weekend.

Rails 1.2 Released

January 19, 2007

Good news for all us web oriented Ruby nerds who have been lovin’ on the edge for the last few months!  Rails 1.2 has been released (see the announcement here).  Go get it!

Going Green in Business

January 15, 2007

One of my new years resolutions is to make environmental considerations a core part of how my company does business. I firmly believe that it’s our responsibility to leave the world a better place than how we found it, and I know the decisions we make as a business can have a bigger impact than what we do as individuals.

As a high tech company and consulting group, we consume a fair amount of electricity and fossil fuels in the course of doing what we do. We also buy and use a lot of computer and network infrastructure, which pound for pound consumes considerable quantities of energy and natural resources to manufacture.

The holy trinity of the green revolution is to reduce, reuse, and recycle — and I think we can add another element to the equation: offset. While we can ensure our high tech purchases are RoHS compliant and that our vendors offer recycling services, computers don’t grow on trees, and neither does the electricity that runs them. Purchasing offsets from reputable sources is a way to pay back those environmental debts, by financing the development of sustainable energy and raw materials.

It’s easy to calculate and buy green tags to balance our electrical and fossil fuel consumption — but I’m running into trouble finding information about how to offset equipment purchases. Anyone have a handy guide to such things?

Coding for Human Behavior

January 14, 2007

Here’s something that has me thinking: the ACM code of ethics for software engineers.

I think the ACM has done a good job capturing the elements that define maturity and professional behavior in the software industry. It clearly spells out that getting the best results means interacting well with people who have different capabilities, interests, and goals than ourselves. This is a pretty fundamental principal which, unfortunately, isn’t taught in many schools, or demonstrated in high tech businesses.

The ACM code makes a lot of sense when you read it. It’s explicit about a lot of things we should consider implicit — and I guess that’s the point. If it were easy to “be a good person,” that’s all we’d have to write about it.

It’s difficult to behave 100% ethically in high pressure, unfamiliar, or otherwise challenging situations — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it. Becoming a better developer doesn’t just mean learning the latest design patterns and languages — it also means building healthy communication with the other people we intract with: clients, customers, sales people, managers, administrative assistants, executives, and everyone else we deal with on a professional basis. That doesn’t mean inviting them over for marathon Wii sessions on the weekend; it means devoting a few spare cycles to thinking about others, and doing our best to build something together — becoming a better person.

2006 was a heck of a year for me. Getting married, leaving a friend’s business, starting another business, hiring and firing, renovating the house, supporting my wife’s decision to become an independent consultant, and coordinating critical technical services for several startups — a lot of high pressure, unfamiliar, and otherwise challenging situations. These are the sorts of things that make a guy think hard about things like ethics and professionalism.

So, here’s to 2007: growing, learning, and becoming a better person.



January 12, 2007

Just a quick recommendation:  if you’re looking for a service that will turn your Photoshopped web page designs into clean, fast XHTML pages … look no further than XHTMLized.com.  They provided friendly and prompt service, very fast turn around, clean cross-browser code, and great rates.  Highly recommended!

iPhone Developer Kit

January 10, 2007

Hey Apple … where are the goodies for the developers?

A new phone-internet-music device has to be more than a shiny sealed box to spark a revolution — it has to be an a platform where independent developers have the ability to create the next generation of portable, network enabled applications. But, searching for “iphone” on the Apple Developer site reveals nothing, and Google doesn’t shed any light on the matter either.

My inner developer is worried.

But I have hope: Apple has a healthy tendency to provide development tools and information well before their corresponding products are released, so with an expected shelf date in June, my fingers are crossed for a developer-friendly announcement in the near future. Plus, the web site and His Steveness advertise “powered by OS X,” and all the great frameworks that come with it — if it’s a closed platform, why tell us about Core Animation and Sync Services?

What kind of apps would you like to see on an iPhone … and what kinds of developer goodies lurk within?

Update: Gizmodo interviews some VPs at Apple, and reports that it is a closed system.   Ray links to a nifty sixfoot6 list of things we want the iPhone to do …