Mark Pilgrim and Michael Barrish are two of my favorite bloggers. They share intimate stories and secrets with courages honesty, risking much in the process. Some wonder for what purpose, I don't. Their honesty isn't being offered as a void trade. It's social currency that buys the respect and aspiration of strangers all around the world. Strangers like me.
I wish I too could overcome the barrier of pride and fear holding back honesty.
I took a recommendation yesterday and ventured downtown for a night in the arms of amateur stand-up comedy. Most jokes went like this:
- Seemingly unfunny story unfolds
- A second of pause (dazed look or quirky smile optional)
- Missing piece that makes unfunny story funny is supplied
- Laugh collection (amount depending on timing, story quality, and surprise factor of the point)
I'm not complaining; simplicity works in comedy as well. I'll be going next tuesday, maybe even friday also (pro night). The most succesful guy of the evening, however, was the one who added more to the mix: A guitar. Different isn't auto-bliss, but the odds are better.
I can't help but admire the instructor in my Java class. The guy, a student himself, is obviously a beginner, yet sees no problem in passing on whatever knowledge he has. Most people are terrorfied to speak about subjects they're proficient in for five minutes, much less teach a class. Respect.
Having said that, could I please get a new instructor? Respect is no guarantee for a joyful learning experience.
80211b is so cool. It sure is, but coolness carries a $500 price tag at the moment (base stattion, PCMCIA card, Danish prices). Being a poor student, my computing needs from the couch, bed, kitchen or dining table are meet the low-tech way: A really long cable!
It's a highly recommendable $10 solution that works suprisingly well within the confinement of my 60m2 apartment. Get a cable that matches the color of your walls, and it doesn't even look that geeky to visitors. You could buy a iPod instead and still have change to spare.
As I'm reading Philip Grenspun's why most computer books suck, I can't help but draw a big smile. This is exactly how we had to write documentation and tutorials at my old job. Keep the cheerful spirit up at all costs. Clarity expendable.
Saving developers hours of frustration was not an option, if it detailed admitting the product was flawed in any way. The poor programmer using our software (a collection of community tools) had to learn all it's quirks, of which there were many, the hard. We knew perfectly well where the software sucked, but couldn't tell.
This prioritation was enforced by documentation reviews where presetation was king, technical details the starved peasant. Reviews were conducted not by the developer's peers, who would actually be able to provide meningful feedback, but by a manager far removed from the code. The result? Documentation that obeyed the rules of grammar, but failed to do customers much good.
That developers reading the documentation wouldn't have any thing to do with the purchase decision, the only justification I can think of, however falliable, seemed lost on the management.
Good documenters works by teaching programmers how to make the most of the software in the least amount of time. Everything else is a distant second.
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