- Cycles of Invention and Commoditisation (Simon Wardley) — Explosions of industrial creativity rarely follow the invention or discovery of a technology but instead its commoditisation i.e. it wasn’t the discovery of electricity but Edison’s introduction of utility services for electricity that produced the creative boom that led to recorded music, modern movies, consumer electronics and even Silicon Valley. However, utility provision of electricity did more than just create a new world, it disrupted existing industries (both directly and through reduced barriers of entry), it also allowed for new practices and methods of working to emerge and even resulted in new economic forms – such as Henry Ford’s Fordism. This isn’t a one off pattern. The cycle of invention/commoditisation repeats throughout our industrial history, following a surprisingly consistent pathway. Understanding this pattern is critical to anticipating the changes emerging in our industry today – whether that’s the web, cloud computing or the future changes that 3D printing will bring. Simon explains the Business of the Internet in one blog post. Simon is king.
- Why Are Software Development Task Estimations Regularly Off By A Factor of 2 or 3? — never a truer word spoken in parable.
- Using the Full-Screen API in Browsers (Mozilla) — useful! The older I get, the more I like full-screen mode. I found myself wishing my email client had it, then someone pointed out that was called “mutt in a shell window”. Fair ’nuff.
It's time to recognize and appreciate highly engineered health information systems.
Clinicians often encounter multi-step software processes that seem laborious. Sometimes that's due to a design flaw, but other times that process has been intentionally constructed as a crumple zone.
Code Bloat, Chinese Startups, Font Fun, and Businesses Embracing Open Source
- Things Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than — next time you’re bragging about your efficient code, spare a thought for the Pascal IDE and compiler that lived in 39,731 bytes. This list of more bloated things is hilarious.
- The China Startup Report (Slideshare) — interesting to see the low salary comes with expectation of bonuses but little interest in equity (as there are few exits other than IPO, for reasons the presentation goes into).
- Shape Method — fun HTML5 challenge that will also expand your appreciation of fonts.
- Open Source All The Things! — SparkFun looking aggressively for things to “open source” from their business. I have a lot of time for companies that contribute to the commons above and beyond their legally-mandated minimum, particularly those who aren’t just dumping their unwanted junk there. Google does this well, Facebook is learning. Good on ya, SparkFun.
Open Access, Retro Crypto, Open Source Q&A, and Music Visualization
- Open Access Week — a global event promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research.
- The Copiale Cipher — cracking a historical code with computers. Details in the paper: The book describes the initiation of “DER CANDIDAT” into a secret society, some functions of which are encoded with logograms. (via Discover Magazine)
- Coordino — open source Quota-like question-and-answer software. (via Smashing Magazine)
- Baroque.me — visualization of the first prelude from the first Cello Suite by Bach. Music is notoriously difficult to visualize (Disney’s Fantasia is the earliest attempt that I know of) as there is so much it’s possible to capture. (via Andy Baio)
How metrics-driven decisions can build better software teams.
Don't dismiss "Moneyball" just because it began in the sports world. Many of the system's metrics-based techniques can also apply to software teams.
HP bails, Oracle fails, and the UK teaches coding (including Wales).
WebOS is going to the great operating system repository in the sky, Oracle finds yet another way to peeve developers, and the UK tries to create a new generation of programmers.
Unregulated Printing, Mobile Data, Open Source ERP, and Future Technology
- Gun Part on Thingiverse — we’re used to thinking of the legal problems caused by cheap and decentralized copies of digital works. Now the problems we had with pipe bombs (designs are free on the net, the parts are cheap) are just as applicable to every type of restricted object (in this case, a gun). The difference between regulating speech (design of an object) and regulating possession of objects is blurring and it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. (via Jesse Robbins)
- Mobile Data (Luke Wrobewski) — Mobile data traffic is now outpacing fixed broadband traffic. Last year, it grew 4.2 times as fast. The entire list of interesting numbers repays reading.
- Technology Time Out (Slideshare) — my presentation to employees embarking on a hackathon, about future trends, the role of software developers, and the need to work on meaningful stuff.
Proprietary software has its place.
James Turner says the notion that proprietary software is somehow dirty or a corruption of principles ignores the realities of competition, economics, and context.