Archive for the 'Links' Category

links for 2008-07-01

links for 2008-06-30

point/counterpoint: Windows is a mess

Point:  Randall Stross of NYTimes declares that Windows is an “obese monolith built on an ancient frame” and that “[t]he best solution to the multiple woes of Windows is starting over. Completely. Now.”

If Microsoft thinks it is too late to actually use Singularity or something like it, the company should take heart from Apple’s willingness to brave the wrath of its users when, in 2001, it introduced Mac OS X.

Counterpoint:  Joel on Software: the “single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make: …[decide] to rewrite the code from scratch.”

The idea that new code is better than old is patently absurd. Old code has been used. It has been tested. Lots of bugs have been found, and they’ve been fixed. There’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t acquire bugs just by sitting around on your hard drive. Au contraire, baby! Is software supposed to be like an old Dodge Dart, that rusts just sitting in the garage? Is software like a teddy bear that’s kind of gross if it’s not made out of all new material?      * * *

When you throw away code and start from scratch, you are throwing away all that knowledge. All those collected bug fixes. Years of programming work.

Stross’ work is vague, fast and loose on the details, and misleading:

Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware — is there anything Windows doesn’t try to do?  Painfully visible are the inherent design deficiencies of a foundation that was never intended to support such weight.  * * *

Yawn, welcome to the world of maintaining a platform.   This is what we do.

Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 — preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP. After six years of development, … long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007.  * * *

As far as I know, the Windows dev team scrapped their XP code, and built Vista from the Windows Server 2003 codebase, a more secure and finely-combed code base.   Stross’ recitation of “Windows version 12” suggests that Vista must be crufty because, goddarn-it, look at how old it is! Twelve versions!  Must be obsolete, ya see?

Lastly, Stross’ suggestion that Microsoft take a play out of Apple’s book, relaunch your operating system with an entire new architecture (i.e. Mac OS X), is unrealistic.  Apple’s small market share permits it to make these nimble drastic moves (oh yeah don’t forget the G4/Intel switch too) and still keep its developers in the fold.   Steve Jobs is also a pied piper that could lead developers into the ocean.  Microsoft has to move MUCH lower, and has to work harder to gets its vast community of developer’s onboard.

vampire weekend: then and now

Last year, east river park summer show:

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One year later, at this weekend’s rainy show at SummerStage:

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I should have taken Neeta’s offer a few years ago to check out a new Columbian band named Vampire Weekend. In general, sometimes you find a new band you like, have a few good shows together, and then it comes time to part ways. Judging from the crowd, and the source of the crowd, after one short album by Vampire Weekend, and now it’s time to let them go. Man, that crowd reminds me of a few Dashboard Confessional shows.

pedantic useless word of the day: aptronym

aptronym – a name that suits its owner.   The wikipedia article has a nice list of examples (yes, Thomas Crapper is there.)


Puzzle/time-waster of the week:  Funny Farm.

Leave a comment if you want to collaborate with me.  The game lets you merge answers.

not exactly how we do it in the lawz biz, but okay

not exactly how the law works, but okay

[Source: this news article about the recent CA ruling on gay marriage]

I anticipate that this post will only be funny to law students, because law school warps the minds of law students to the extent that such straight-forward questions about being a “correct decision” is simplistic to the point of absurdity and hilarity. Pitiful, no?

I imagine the Constitutional Law II exam tomorrow morning for which I am cramming has a different format.   It is a modern trend in legal pedagogy to move away from the “circle yes or no, then click Vote!” exams typically favored in the 1980s.

more procrastination

Video: Saudis doing car stunts on the freeway.

Video: leopard slug sex.   More beautiful and intricate than it sounds.

Finally, wedding query:  what happens when the groom is a b-boy, and the groomsmen are his b-boy crew?    Answer: um, only the freshest, sickest wedding reception video ever.

most inventive animation i’ve seen this year

Because something ought to entertain you while I am occupied with exams:

Video:  MUTO, a wall-painted animation.   Brilliant in a thousand creative ways.  Though it’s too long by a minute, and a dollop of story-telling would do miracles.

On topics far from my horizon

Both of these links crossed my desk today, from two different sources:

These articles, in conjunction with the onslaught of wedding invites, betrothal toasts, and childbirths, have put a stutter in my step. Readers, I need little reminder of my social and emotional retardation. Nonetheless, I shall plod forth, steadfast in my most sincere belief and complete conviction that I shall blossom into New York City’s most eligible bachelor.


For your enjoyment, I have uploaded a portion of my sweet mix into my own muxtape.

philosophy is the new econ

NYTimes: On the rising popularity of philosophy among college students. What a waste. Nothing replaces the utility or sense of empowerment which springs forth from the vigorous study of computer science.

Some, like Ms. Onejeme, the pre-med-student-turned-philosopher, who is double majoring in political science, see it as a pre-law track because it emphasizes the verbal and logic skills prized by law schools — something the Rutgers department encourages by pointing out that their majors score high on the LSAT. (emphasis added).

This lends grist to my theory that Law is “applied philosophy”.  Both share in their confusing, arbitrary, and long-winded practices, not to neglect their famously insufferable practicers (come on, look at photo.)

When millennials attack: idk, my bff rose

NY Times: Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK), in which NY Times discovers that !!gasp!! young people are sending text messages to each other, and that is changing (!!!) how people are communicating!!! SHITS!!! Here’s the requisite adult-missing-the-point moment:

“They don’t know that’s the time to carry on a conversation,” [a father] said. “I would like to walk up to some tables and say, ‘Kids, put your iPods and your cellphones away and talk to your parents.’ ”

But even he has found that enforcing rules is harder than might be expected. He now permits Savannah to send text messages while watching TV, after he noticed her using a blanket over her lap to hide that she was sending messages to friends. “I could have them in the same room texting, or I wouldn’t let them text and they would leave,” said Mr. Pence of his children. “They are good kids, but you want to know what they are up to.”

Was anyone else blinded by the gloss over? “grrr. damn those kids. no manners. my own daughter? ahhh, what can you do?”

I am surprised teenagers still write in that annoying shorthand. Why does the teenage eagerness for adult activities (e.g. sex, alcohol, driving) not extend to grammar, diction, and basic punctuation?

RIP: Cyclotron

Columbia University is removing the Cyclotron from the basement of Pupin this week. One of the last remaining treasures in the tunnels:

Sealed off from public access, it could be reached only through the school’s underground tunnel system. … After evading security guards and traversing the tunnels, the group reached the basement of the physics building, armed with word-of-mouth instructions: Find the out-of-order men’s bathroom, and send the skinniest person in your party shimmying up the heating vent and into the hallway of the abandoned laboratories, where she can open the door for everyone else.

I was down there once for a secret AcIS (remember them?) UI tunnel tour, but we never made it into the cyclotron room.

Update:  Even better, this New Yorker talk-of-the-town piece was penned by  Kate Linthicum, BC ’08.

go cross campus

NY Times: Storming the Campuses: Yale kids and one Columbian, Isaac Silverman (CC ’08?), build “multiplayer locally social gaming” in GoCrossCampus, a strange amalgam of Risk and the social web.  Don’t miss the fascinating slideshow, detailing plot twists of the Ivy League campaign.

lesson? cats shouldn’t talk

Garfield minus Garfield — removing Garfield from his own strip turns “Garfield” into a tragic comedy of one Jon Arbuckle.

Somewhat related: removing Garfield’s dialogue makes the cartoon funny again.

See also, previously.

i love deals

My greatest online discovery this month has been Steep and Cheap, a site that sells great outdoor gear and technical clothes at huge bargain prices (like 50% to 70% off).  The catch is that they only sell one item at a time;  and they rotate the item whenever it sells out or time expires.   Unofficial companion sites have even cropped up that help track past items or send text alerts

Right now, SAC is clearing out its ski gear inventory.  Its sister site Whiskey Militia (normally skateboarding-related) is unloading snowboarding gear.   I myself bought Salomon F22s and Ride RX bindings  and every day I secretly wish I did not already own a jacket, pants, or goggles, so I could buy new ones from this site.  Hot damn, I love a great bargain. 

Warning: constant refreshing of sites may result in loss of productivity.

new world madness befuddles monocle-donning company

NY Times:  Online Scrabble Craze Leaves Game Sellers at Loss for Words.   Wow, two Indian programmers are raking in $25,000/month in advertising from Scrabbulous.     I need to launch my facebook app as soon as possible.  Zampire Tile Game v2.0 here we come.

This is a classic story of a small entity finding an easy-to-use, convenient outlet for someone else’s content (see also Napster, YouTube).   Scrabbulous was simply presented, and fit well within the Facebook system.  It tracked game stats, and allowed you to challenge your existing friends.  It really is amazing to me how many people who wouldn’t touch a wooden Scrabble board with a ten foot nerd pole have 17 games of Scrabbulous going at once in Facebook.

As for the legal issues, there are two separate legal rights Hasbro could claim: trademark and copyright.   Hasbro could probably nail them under trademark law for naming themselves “Scrabbulous”, which is likely to confuse the average consumer blah blah blah.  Copyright infringement of the game rules and the board’s look and feel is a whole other question, not to be touched here because I got a B in that class.

Big picture-wise, is this actually harming Hasbro’s market for wooden board games?  Absolutely not.  The enriching experience of in-person board games is completely separate from the online meandering of those darn Millenials.  (Although you could argue that this harmed Hasbro’s right to exclusively license their online Scrabble rights to a software company, like, here, Real Networks, which has an astounding history of creating beloved, well-designed, user-friendly malware.)   If anything, this just made Hasbro more relevant to a new generation.  They’ll just have to tolerate the occasional snotwad saying something like: “Oooh! This is game is just like Scrabbulous but in-person and with wooden pieces.”