Eight links make a post

And now, for another exciting post of links and short comments:

  • I’ve always been aware of having been gifted with a pretty powerful attention span. I have always kind of assumed it came from becoming a reader at a very young age, but I guess it’s equally plausible that things are actually ordered the other way and my resistance to distraction has to do with having a decent working memory. This would also tie into my belief that one of the marks of a competent software craftsman (or mathematician, or logician, or…) is the ability to hold a complex abstract model entirely in your head–something that obviously requires both a decent working memory and an ability to focus and resist distractions. Of course, it’s also relatively fragile–every time we’re forced out of that mental state of holding and manipulating the model, the cost to get back to it is substantial, something I wish more people understood when considering how to schedule that kind of work.
  • “In the information age, it is easier than ever to gather knowledge about things that should not be but nonetheless are, and such wisdom could prepare our students to be better citizens amid the ruins of sunken cities infested with swarms of ravenous, bloated rats”
  • I’ve been saying for a really long time that the “soft costs” of outsourcing knowledge industry work outweigh the benefits on the bottom line. While I’m still not sure that this has been realized by executives everywhere, Obama’s position on tax credits is certainly accelerating the swing of the pendulum back to workers “in country”. Of course current economic pressures might have executives looking at cheap foreign workers as a way to save some money… but then we’re back to the “soft costs” argument, which I don’t want to make in it’s entirety here. I guess I really don’t care in a personal sense, so long as American companies still outsource some work to Canadians in roughly the same time zone.
  • I have paid ridiculous amounts for a comic book on at least one occasion. However, I am so bush league compared to the people bidding on a copy of Action Comics #1. At the time I write this the bidding is at over $275,000. You know, I’ve read that comic–I’d say the story is worth about a quarter at most, and the art is pretty primitive. Just saying.
  • The geek in my wants to buy one of the SheevaPlug development kits, just because I like the idea of small, pervasive computers. However, when I step back and look at it rationally, I have to admit I don’t see the use cases for plug computers. I mean I understand the pitch–“any time you need a computer to run all the time, but don’t need a dedicated set of interface devices (monitor, keyboard, mouse) for it–like a web server or email server or media server–you could replace that computer with a tiny device that lives at the power outlet”–I just don’t understand how that’s a better model than some other ones. It’s not like modern hardware can’t run all those servers on a single machine without even breathing hard, as well as interacting with a user. Now, if you want to talk about a bunch of plug computers that would be cheap, wirelessly networked, and self-assembling into a clustered pool of assignable processing power… maybe you’d get my attention then.
  • “If only I could stop thinking about the person I thought you were.”
  • No, I haven’t gone to see Watchmen yet. There’s a decent chance I won’t actually see it in theatres–I believe I have made my feelings on the fundamental problems with adaptations obvious, and this is certainly a case where the medium is a significant part of the message–but who knows. If you haven’t read the book and are going to the movie, Dorian has everything you need to know–his comedy bit shows a greater understanding of the book than the vast majority of reviews and discussion (of the book) in the hype weeks around the movie release showed. If I don’t get to the movie, I won’t feel like I missed out, since I did get to see Saturday Morning Watchmen, which is hilarious if you’ve read the book and grew up with 80s cartoons.
  • Did you ever read Fletch Reflected? You didn’t? What’s wrong with you? You should have read pretty nearly everything Gregory McDonald ever wrote, particularly the Fletch and Flynn books–don’t be fooled by the goofy Fletch movies (insert adaptation speech here) the books were brilliant, funny, sharp things. Anyway, if you had read it, you would remember the conceit in the book of the “perfect mirror”, which reflected not a flipped mirror image, but rather an actual image as seen by people looking at you. Apparently science has made metaphor real, which both amuses, and somewhat saddens me.

And that’s enough for tonight.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada
This work by Chris McLaren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada.