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code slate

More semi-coherent (at best) rambling from a software guy.

Updated: 2017-09-02T12:10:19.183-07:00


handling layoffs the star trek way


"Here's your new tunic, ensign.""Um, sir, it's red...""Report to the away team tomorrow morning."

a new gig


For the past thirteen years I've been essentially self-employed in the software industry. First as a contractor, then as a consultant owning my own corporation; I’ve simultaneously had no bosses and a multitude of bosses. The freedom to take time off when I want to has been great, as has the chance to work from home and be around my kids as they grow up. Starting June 9th I’ll be turning in my “

c++ cheat sheet


Here’s a refresher sheet I made for C++ to remind me of a bunch of syntax details that I always seem to forget when I've switched to another programming language for too long. It's less of a complete reference and more of a "you better not hose these things during an interview". Let me know if you find it helpful or if you see any mistakes.C++ Refresher (PDF) (Also: what else would you add?

great concurrency article


Here's a great article about concurrency by Herb Sutter: you're a C++ programmer and you haven't read Herb's books, get on it! They showed me a whole higher level of thinking about C++.)

software project wobble


Your project is spinning smoothly along like a top. It reacts to small bumps by righting itself, always moving, always keeping on course. Life is good and those options are looking pretty sweet. Then the top starts to wobble. How does it start? Sometimes you've run out of design - your construction has moved off your map into uncharted territory. Sometimes unchecked changes demanded by

stagnation test


Here's a test for the coders: find some code you wrote two years ago and take a look at it. Does it make you cringe? It's good if it does - it means you've been elevating your game. If you weren't any better then it would look just fine.

lock in, bad idea or ill-advised?


I've been using a free version of a password management program. This app doesn't play well with Vista so I decide to migrate all my password information to a new program.Hmmm. It seems the free version doesn't have an export command. There is an export command in the "pro" version, which runs about $40. If I were a suspicious type I'd think they were trying to shake me down for forty bucks to

survivor answers


[By popular request, here are the questions to the answers in this post.]1. Why are manhole covers round?2. There are three switches in one room and one light bulb in another. How can you tell which switch controls the bulb if you can only make one trip from the switch room to the bulb room?3. If a plane crashes right on the border of the US and Canada, in which country would you bury the

mr. biteme, of the nantucket bitemes?


I was helping my stepfather install the new version of real player (yeah, I know) because he absolutely had to play some ra files. At one point - and apparently I wasn't aware of this technical limitation in CODECs - it's critical that Real Networks have his e-mail address in order to play an audio file.Of course, I entered It said that address was in use.So I changed it to biteme@

idiotic ui choices


Imagine if you will a website, belonging to a bank. As part of their new security policy they give you a series of questions for which you are supposed to provide the answer. One of these questions asks for a name of a particular family member.Which I enter.And the website tells me my answer must be 4 characters long. But the name isn't. So the right answer to the question violates the input

google v. help


[I've since found that Jeff Atwood already did a much better article on this. Go read it instead.]When's the last time you tried to find something in an application's help system?Being typical, I rarely seek help (or driving directions). When I do get stymied enough to venture into an application's help system, I inevitably end up more stymied, plus pissed off. It's rare that I actually find a

mike gunderloy's "coder to developer"


This is the book you wish all the junior programmers you've ever worked with had read. Actually, a lot of senior programmers could use a good whack in the head from this book too. Mike describes many of the practices you need to implement to move past the "good coder" stage to "good developer" - things like bug tracking, source code control, automated testing, documentation, IDE

bad windows explorer ui


Who thought it would be a good idea to pop up a dialog box when I drag something across a folder in Windows 2003 (note: not drop into but go over). I was trying to copy a file and had the misfortune of a target just below the "My Shared Folders". Every time I dragged (drug?) the file over "My Shared Folders" it popped up a dialog about logging on to Windows Live to...blah...blah...blah.Of course

guy kawasaki video


There's a good video of Guy Kawasaki on startups. His blog is interesting reading, too.

degrees of broken


I'm reading the recently released Dreaming in Code, by Scott Rosenberg. So far it's entertaining and insightful about software development. I was struck by this sentence, from chapter zero:Their work is one percent inspiration, the rest sweat-drenched detective work; their products are never finished or perfect, just various degrees of "less broken."Which is as true a statement about software

the accidental user


People won't use your software how you think.Sometimes you lovingly plan, spec, prototype, usability test and construct your software to do something - something so wonderful that your users will dance ecstatically through the streets and erect statues in your honor. And sure enough some people are using your program - in ways you absolutely didn't expect.I wrote the system configuration utility

you don't bury survivors


(Overheard at a recent interview:)So, Jeremy, tell me a little about yourself.Because they'll roll and they can't fall down the hole. And because manholes are round.Um, okay, how about your most recent project?Turn on two switches, wait a while and turn one off. If the bulb is on, it's the one left on. If the bulb is off and warm, it was the one you switched off. Otherwise it's the one you didn't

namm 2007


Most years I meet up with some friends (scattered across the country) and we head to southern California for the NAMM convention. The National Association of Music Merchants is held each year in the Anaheim convention center and brings manufacturers of musical instruments and equipment from around the world to show their newest inventions. Some of which are pretty weird. The crowd at the show is

it might seem like a good idea...


To take your laptop and phone with you on vacation. But it really isn't.Trust me on this.



Consider how an engineer designs a bridge. There's a lot of analysis and math, plus there's a big game of "what's the worst thing that could happen":"What if there were a fire here, fueled by the natural gas line, how hot could it get? What would it melt? What if a big truck smacked into this support? (Engineers LOVE using technical terms like "smacked into" or "walloped".) How many beams could

welcome to code slate (or is that code's late?)


I kind of like the ambiguity in the the blog name (and domain). If you read it as "code slate", it's about writing software on a clean slate. If you read it as "code's late", well, that's also about writing software.So here's the first post - the post which nobody will read since the blog is brand spanking sparkly new. Well, somebody might (hi Mom!). Along with the usual funny pictures and random