In Defense of Twitter

Twitter bashing has become a bit of a past-time for some people. I don’t think that the criticism leveled at Twitter is fair or accurate. It is generally based on a misunderstanding of the technical problems they are facing. In the case of TechCrunch, it’s a desire to drive traffic to the TechCrunch website by fabricating conflict and making personal attacks. Twitter has had a hard time scaling. This is obvious to anyone that uses the service, and is readily admitted by the people behind Twitter.

Cool OS X Application: Shelf

One of the most useful ideas I’ve seen in the past few years was Dashboard. Dashboard was an open source project launched by Nat Friedman of Ximian (since acquired by Novell). It’s aim was to provide a “dashboard” of information relevant to you while you were doing work. If you were having an IM conversation with your friend Bob, it would show you the last few emails Bob had sent you, previous IM conversations with Bob, Bob’s contact information from your address book, etc.

Links for 5/27/2008

I’ve built up a big backlog of links. Here’s the first batch. Unix Command Line Kung-Fu 33 Pages of command line goodness. I’ve been rocking the command line for almost a decade, but there’s a ton of stuff here I didn’t know. Update : Hal Pomeranz, who created this document, sent me an email with a link to the PDF version of the document. You can find it here. Thanks Hal!

Video Lectures

I stumbled across a great site tonight, chock full of the geekiest videos I’ve seen. The main sources seem to be university lectures. Very good stuff, and in a variety of disciplines such as Computer Science, Business, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Check it out: Video Lectures.

Specialists Need Not Apply

This job posting from Nat Friedman got me to thinking, along the lines of my previous post. Here’s the bit that got my mind working: Keep in mind that we’re not looking for specialists: we’re a small team, and we need people who are willing and happy to shift gears whenever necessary. It was implied in my previous post, but I didn’t overtly state it: The worst thing that can happen to you as a programmer is to become a specialist.

The Two Kinds of Programmers

Photo courtesy of Roby72 In my time as a developer, and now managing a team of developers, I have come to realize that there are two kinds of programmers: the Journeyman and the Craftsman. These terms aren’t mine - I’ve seen them used other places - but they describe the developers I’ve worked with pretty well. The Journeyman …knows one programming language. …knows one operating system. …can’t be bothered to learn something on their own.

My Favorite New Site: Tripit

I’d heard (first from Joel Spolsky, I believe) about a cool new travel planning site called Tripit. I’m making arrangements for a trip to St. Louis later this month, and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it out. To say the least, I’m impressed. The first thing that I noticed was the registration process: there isn’t one. All you have to do is take any travel-related email (hotel confirmation, airline itinerary, etc) and forward it to plans@tripit.

Links for 4/2

A list of random and assorted things I have found lately New York Times blog on open source technology at the Times “A blog about open source technology at The New York Times, written by and primarily for developers. This includes our own projects, our work with open-source technologies at, and other interesting topics in the open source and Web 2.0 worlds.” There are a lot of nice posts in there, including one on how they used EC2 to convert their archives to PDF.

Mac Question: What Books Should I Buy?

I’ve owned the Macbook Pro for a little while now, and am getting comfortable with OS X. I think it’s time to dig a little deeper though, so I’m going to buy a book or two. I’m a long time computer user, and have a lot of *NIX experience, so I’m not looking for something too basic. I’d like something that will teach me the ins and outs of the whole operating system, and let me go from being “comfortable” to “power user”.

Is SwitchPipe the Solution for Rails Shared Hosting?

Peter Cooper (who I interviewed recently ) has just announced SwitchPipe, which aims to make deploying and hosting Rails (and other frameworks, such as Django) applications easy. From the site: Introduction / Overview SwitchPipe is a proof of concept “Web application server” developed in Ruby. More accurately, it’s a Web application process manager and request dispatcher / proxy. Backend HTTP-speaking applications (Web applications) do not run directly within SwitchPipe, but are loaded into their own processes making SwitchPipe language and framework agnostic.