In the spirit of the “third stall”, Firefox 3 Beta 4 rocks my socks.  Scrolling speeds, general zippiness, and forward/back performance are all pretty nice.  I like having more memory available for other hungry apps (Parallels, Adobe crap, etc.), too.  Can’t wait for it to go final.

I remember not too long ago that there were Firefox v1.0 parties across the world.  Why the speed up?  Wasn’t Firefox asymptotic to v1.0 for several years?

CIAS Note:  We have some really cool computing facilities in our college, but I don’t feel like they are marketed properly or effectively.  Do other schools offer (seemingly) unlimited storage for web and class projects (or pretty much whatever you want)?  How about art schools?  What about our photo facilities?  ISL?  Do other schools offer several different renderfarm solutions in addition to the ability to use a world-wide supercomputing grid?  I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but we have some really cool shit.  Then again, I’ve had three glasses of my favorite Pinot Noir.  =)

Final thought:  In the midst of our governor getting sacked for violating the moral conciousness of our state, something he said long before he took an oath in Albany caught my attention.  Paraphrased, “if you are playing defense, you are losing”.  More thoughts on that later, I suppose; brain needs to digest.

How can we tell the difference between Quality and Style? Apple comes to mind for both, but why is that? How do we subconsciously identify what has Quality and what has Style?

Too often a piece of crap with some Style slapped on top of it is trying to disguise itself as Quality. Dell laptops come to mind. Style sucks.

Regarding my previous post about Outlook having Quality:  I take it back.  Outlook is a piece of crap with Style slapped on it.  It does not add functionality over pine.


February 19th, 2008

So often in our profession we are asked to “teach me [technical topic] really quick”. “CSS? What’s that? I have five minutes, can you teach me that?” The temptation to pacify the ‘student’ with a quick, but inadequate, lesson is overwhelmed by a sense of caring for one’s own profession; you want to teach it the “right way”. It’s simply not possible to teach anything in a hurry if you care about the subject. You want to make sure that the subject matter is presented in the best way and that the student completely understands all of what is happening. This usually requires quite a bit of catching-up/background information before you can even get to “CSS” (first there was text, then markup languages, an so on). While giving a lesson on CSS you, perhaps subconsciously, teach your own way of doing things.

Comment blocks should look like this. Always make sure you put this in your ssh config. For the love of God you have to put your KDCs in /etc/hosts in case DNS goes down!

Because you care you will be better at teaching something, but only if taught the right way, for the right reasons, the right circumstances.

Perhaps it can be said that you have no business teaching something that you do not care about, I mean really care about.

Similarly, one cannot really learn about a topic without a desire that is not motivated by grades, resume fodder, etc.. Academic utopia. You really have to want to learn. Using CSS as an example, you can’t simply absorb the structure, syntax, etc. and expect to be at all competent at writing CSS once you ‘know’ everything about it. I can know and master all of the painting/brush techniques of oil paint and still not be able to make a good painting–a piece of art. While there is no technical difference between me with a paintbrush and Rembrandt with a paintbrush ((yes, he’s dead) we both have working arms, eyes, fingers, etc.), there is most certainly a qualitative difference between our respective outputs. I don’t think you don’t have to be a Rembrandt at CSS to write good code or teach good CSS. To admit that there is such thing as “good” CSS is admitting that if you care about CSS; some CSS will be better than other CSS even if they both produce the same web page.

There is an unnecessary stigma surrounding technology, specifically computers. I’m finding it’s not all pointers and memory registers and binary math. Good IT work is about caring.

Can a (hypothetically) emotionless sysadmin develop, implement, and maintain a fantastic IT infrastructure? I don’t doubt it. Er…on second though, without a sense of Quality there would be no graphical email clients. RFC822 says nothing about mime encoding, attachments, RTF, anything–just plain text. The same information is being transmitted with memory hummingbird pine as is with memory whale Outlook. MS bashing arguments aside, the difference is Quality.

I want to figure out how to get some free hardware. Not because I don’t think we can come up with the money but because industry backing in a distributed computing environment (in the form of recurring/ongoing funding) would be great visibility for some of our programs. Our kids have some amazing talents, but the ability to showcase those talents is limited by computing horsepower available to them.

Ideally an ‘in’ with a high-level executive at an international company in the computing industry would be a perfect way to start. Hmm… Maybe these guys can help. I’ll give them a call in my ‘spare time’.


Here goes nothing

April 2nd, 2007

Here’s where I’ll keep a historical record of silly things I do with computers…