Deblaming

Debugging is not about placing blame.

Debugging is not about placing blame.

Debugging is not about placing blame.

Debugging is not about placing blame.

(Debugging is about finding out what’s wrong, fixing it, then going to the responsible party’s cubical and striking up a casual conversation, gradually leading to the subject at hand, then attacking from out of the sun with a swift and utterly devasting blow, leaving the goombah gasping in the dust and seriously questioning their self worth, their career and their ability to program and chew gum at the same time).

Frustration

Analogy time.

A person is going to make a cake. They have five or ten pounds of really good, premium quality cake flour. However, something inexplicable happens in their head when they’re putting it together, they think: “Sure, I can use this really good flour and have a really good cake, or I can stretch it a little and make it only a little less good by substituting a cup of sand for a cup of that really valuable flour…”

Corrollary disease: “This flour is soooo good that if I add a lot more of it, the cake will be that much better.”

[Not specific to cooking, or any person. I just woke up with this in my head.]

Another one bites the dust

A little over a year ago, when the Borders in Sunnyvale opened, I feared that it would affect sales at local bookstores. My fears proved correct; I found out today that the Stacey’s Books in Cupertino is closing early next year (their store in San Francisco will remain open … but that’s well over an hour away from here).

I’ve been buying books from Stacey’s for over twenty years. Their Palo Alto store closed a couple years ago, and now the last decent technical bookstore (with the exception of the Stanford bookstore) in Silicon Valley is gone. How ironic, than a center of high tech can’t support a measily technical bookstore.

[Yes, I know about Computer Guru. No, it doesn’t count.]

For several years, I made a point to buy books from Stacey’s, rather than shop online or go to one of the megachains (like Borders or — shudder — B&N). I guess that not everyone else did. Oh well….

With Stacey’s and Printer’s Inc gone, this pretty much leaves it to Kepler’s as the sole decent independent bookstore that remains. Bites.

Watching the watchers

From the Cypherpunks list, a recent discussion about watching the watchers:

Consider the meaning of reverse-panopticon. Find federal employees and let them know “we’re watching you” but don’t identify “we”. Publish public info. Do this for executives in firms that pander to the Evil. Not just e.g., Ellison —there are more next-level-down underlings who might just live in your neighborhood.

Anyone got ideas for a “neighborhood watch” type sticker which expresses the reverse-panopticon visually?

Someone who is a better artist than I am should take a stab at this, but what the heck:

or maybe

Imperial Storm Troopers

In July of 1984, Jack Tramiel bought Atari. Tramiel had a reputation as a hard-driven, hard-bargaining businessman whose motto was, “Business is war.” The news that Atari had been purchased came as a quite a shock; Atari had been bleeding money for years, and it was clear that something drastic had to be done, but sell it? Jeez, Tramiel is going to absolutely savage this place…

From Steven L. Kent’s The Ultimate History of Video Games

Everybody was expecting something draconian to happen. When they first walked in the building, someone got on the PA system and did the line from The Empire Strikes Back. I think it went, “Attention, Imperial Storm Troopers have entered the base.”

That “someone” was me; as a couple of Jack’s people came in the door of the Coin-op building, I got on the horn and did that quick quip. About three hours later (after each one of us had had a five minute interview) two thirds of the engineers in my group were out of jobs.

Fast-forward about a year. I survived the layoffs, was kept on by the Tramiels to work on the Atari ST. After we finally shipped the system, Jack took the software team out to dinner, and his son told him the story about the funny guy on the PA system. Ha ha. “Things turned out pretty well, didn’t they?” he said to me and Jack, and I nodded; the Tramiels weren’t terrible bosses.

Getting to “Ha ha” took a bit of time, however. One of the things you need to know about Jack Tramiel is that when he was 12, he was in the Nazi extermination camp Aushwitz. To Jack, the phrase “Storm Trooper” has an entirely different meaning, and his son had to carefully explain the Star Wars reference. In the end, I don’t think that Jack really got it, except he understood I wasn’t calling him a Nazi.