Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

A Matter of Will

Filed under: General,Science Fiction/Fantasy— arlen@ 11:28 am

Just finished working in Program Operations for the latest WorldCon (Renovation) and started planning for the next one, in Chicago, when I’m running the department. Not because I’m going to do it so much differently (let’s face it, when you learn from the best, there’s not a lot of ways to improve on it) but because it’ll be me.

Still, I’m fairly nervous about it, and the why of that didn’t become clear until the train ride home from Reno, when I had time to think. Continue reading

Postel’s Law and Human Interaction

Filed under: General— arlen@ 11:18 am

Back in the day, the unutterably brilliant Jon Postel framed what will forever be known as “Postel’s Law:”

Be conservative in what you emit, and liberal in what you accept.

It stems from RFC 761, and it was originally intended to guide the creation of computer-computer interactions. In a nutshell, the law describes the nature of a robust system: when sending to another system, adhere as closely to a rigid standard as possible, but when receiving data from another system, allow for as much variability as possible.

I’ve since taken this principle as foundational for computer human interaction. Humans are by nature vague, imprecise, and sloppy beasts, so the computer should be prepared to accept a great deal of variability from them, while delivering precision to them.

But lately, I’ve been musing on this as also a fundamental principle of human-human interaction. Continue reading

Just Not Git-ing It

Filed under: General,Technology— arlen@ 12:00 am

Phil Taylor recently tried to get up close and personal with git. He ran into difficulties, in no small part because he treated git like subversion, which it decidedly isn’t.

So in the interests of helping out anyone else out there with the same idea, that of wanting to try out something new in hopes of finding something better, here’s a quick-and-dirty glimpse at the way I use git around here.
Continue reading

Talk Radio Comes to Open Source

Filed under: General— arlen@ 7:43 am

I’ve been noticing a depressing trend among some contributors to OS projects. More and more I’m seeing people deliberately saying and doing outrageous things, and then excusing their behavior under the guise “I had to to that to make a point,” or some similar trash.

The idea itself isn’t new, talking heads on TV and radio have been doing that for decades. The theory behind it goes something like this: When the show’s host says something eminently reasonable, the listeners will sagely nod their heads and agree, but no one picks up the phone to call in and congratulate the host on being reasonable. On the other hand, if the host says something outrageous, people will call in by the droves, either to argue vehemently or to cheer the host on into further outrages.

Either way, the phones ring and the host has something to do for the next hour. If the callers are rational, the host backs down from the outrageous claim with the excuse that the hyperbole was necessary to get people thinking. Of course, that’s a convenient fiction, because the host really wasn’t trying to get people to think; the goal was to make people talk, not to make them think.
Continue reading

Generational Change

Filed under: Technology,Web Design— arlen@ 11:31 am

Come gather ’round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

It always happens. Something comes along and catches on with the new kids, while the old fogeys pooh-pooh it as nothing special. Change comes, and only the agile survive. The gesture-based interface made popular on the iPhones and iPads is the change this time around.
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July 2024
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