The false seductiveness of obfuscation and language overuse
October 20th, 2010 by ravi

Douglas Crockford, in the intro to Javascript: The Good Parts:

When I was a young journeyman programmer, I would learn about every feature of the languages I was using, and I would attempt to use all of those features when I wrote. I suppose it was a way of showing off, and I suppose it worked because I was the guy you went to if you wanted to know how to use a particular feature.

Eventually I figured out that some of those features were more trouble than they were worth. Some of them were poorly specified, and so were more likely to cause portability problems. Some resulted in code that was difficult to read or modify. Some induced me to write in a manner that was too tricky and error-prone. And some of those features were design errors. Sometimes language designers make mistakes.

App-Chasing: Fast Times on an Apple Fanboy High
October 2nd, 2010 by ravi

The fanboys have moved on. As they always do.

Just this last 2005 you bought one of the most expensive laptops in the world, a MacBook. For a year or two it was glorious. You read all the top Apple blogs, Daring Fireball, TUAW… you were part of the in crowd and with them you basked in the luxury of gorgeous hand-crafted Mac apps (like Delicious Library and Cha-Ching). It didn’t matter that you had already spent dirty dollars on grungy old Windows tools. Microsoft Office, Norton thingummy, all that icky stuff. Apple was worth it.

Then 2007 came and the iPhone happened. The fanboys moved on. The desktop became so 2006. Mobile was the future and you were the past. Lack of multi-window multi-tasking or a real screen with enough space for application content or toolbars — these were features. Revolutionary new features. Magical. Darwinian logic stepped in: app developers either adapted by sacrificing their Mac app on the $99 Developer license App Store electric chair (see: Tweetie for Mac)… or they died.

In a freakishly serendipitous development in late 2007, your trusty Blackberry device had lost all of its sexiness… as if you had gone to sleep watching A Streetcar Named Desire and woken up to Godfather. That brutish hard keyboard! That barbarous user interface! It was time, you were certain, to move on; and time as we know is money, and money… it was time to spend it on an iPhone. Promising your left kidney to AT&T you followed the fanboys to the new paradise. Oh was it joy to spin the wheel on Where To? to find a place to destress with your hipster friends. Or stay informed on worldly matters framed in consumable bits within the sweet Tweetie for iPhone (the same one you had been jilted by, on the now dreary old MacBook). And guiding you on this giddy ride was the reassuring arm of the golden fanboys.

You weathered the turbulence of the 3GS when video and HD left you motionless. You lived through the rumours of the iPhone 4. But there is but one God and that God spoke decisively in April 2010. The iPad had arrived and the followers did what they do best. They followed. “What?”, they scoffed smiling sweetly, as only an Apple fanboy can, “NetNewsWire? Tweetie? What are these primitive things you speak of so endearingly?”. A world where beings trod the ground unaware of the splendour of Flipboard on an iPad was one they found quaint and charmingly implausible. The fanboys, you see, had moved. Are you coming?

This, at length, is the new normal. The new Kierkegaardian rotation method, sans the need to rotate your pleasures. One, Infinite Loop, delivers a new pleasure every three years. The app universe and blogosphere shifts in lockstep. And all you need to keep up is a deep pocket and a quick leap of faith.

»  Substance: WordPress  »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa