random title

Entries made in November 2005

This page contains all of my entries posted during the month of November 2005.

Small improvements

Posted by Dave on November 27, 2005 at 02:16 AM | Comments (4)

I’m currently working on a Ruby on Rails application for a client of mine. I hope to be able to write about the project, and the things I’ve learned, in detail once it’s complete; for now, I want to write about something I noticed yesterday.

The application involves camps for children’s and family camps. It’s useful to know the gender mix of the children’s camps so that accommodation can be arranged accordingly. Although I was already required to display the number of each gender, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a little diagram so that, at a glance, you could see what the gender ratio was.

The diagram I produced, showing the percentages of male and female campers in the camp

It took thirty minutes to implement this, including all of the CSS and graphics. Those thirty minutes have arguably improved the usefulness of the application.

What I’ve noticed while working with Ruby on Rails is I don’t feel the same time pressures or mad rushes I’ve felt while using other programming languages or frameworks. As a result, I can afford to spend time adding in small improvements like this across the application.

It’s easy to dismiss these as relatively minor improvements. Maybe, instead of using this time to make many minor improvements, I should spend my time trying to add one or two major features? Surely this would make a better product?

I believe it doesn’t, and I think it all comes down to what makes a good day.

Joel Spolsky says in chapter one of User Interface Design for Programmers says:

So that’s what days were like. A bunch of tiny frustrations, and a bunch of tiny successes. But they added up. Even something which seems like a tiny, inconsequential frustration affects your mood. Your emotions don’t seem to care about the magnitude of the event, only the quality.

And I started to learn that the days when I was happiest were the days with lots of small successes and few small frustrations.

It’s a view I completely agree with. It’s rare that anything particularly wonderful or disastrous will happen in a day, so most of the time it comes down to the little things.

The diagram might save someone two minutes of calculation. But as it’s something inconvenient, that’s two minutes of frustration. By getting rid of that frustration, I’ve made their day slightly better. On top of all the other “minor improvements”, I might even have been able to turn there day from a bad one to a good one.

And that’s got to be better than adding a possibly unnecessary major feature. And if it does turn out to be a good thing to add, then it’s best to leave it to version two, when it can be given the attention it deserves.

Junk post

Posted by Dave on November 26, 2005 at 04:50 AM | Comments (7)

After much consultation with Des, and by consultation I mean listening to him complain about the missed opportunity that is my blog, I've decided to up the signal-to-noise ratio a bit here. But first, I'm going to hit a big three-bar solo of noise.

There goes my endurance

So, I quit caffeine. I did it cold turkey. I lasted quite a long time, though I did stumble a bit; I drank maybe eight cups of tea and two cups of coffee during that month and a half. I started to think I was safe.

Then this happened:

A photo of the Starbucks store on College Green

Starbucks have opened a store on College Green, one of the busiest places in Dublin and right around the corner from my bus-stop. I drank two large caramel macchiatos today, and they were good, but I think we can wave goodbye any notion that I'll be staying off the juice.

It's in the eyes boss

I am, unfortunately, quite self-concious about my physical appearance, but after seeing two photos today I am convinced that my glasses need to go. They make my eyes appear smaller than they actually are, which has a surprisingly large effect on the image I project.

Compare and contrast the images projected by the two photos below.

Two photos of me. The first makes me appear like a ponce, and the second makes me look like a psychopath

Mad Choons

I've been listening to a lot of The Cinematic Orchestra, Sigur Rós and The Mars Volta recently. I'd recommend checking their music out... it's great stuff. Get listening.

And now for something completely different

Dead whale plus one ton of TNT equals hilarity.

delete from mt_comment where comment_author like '%penis%';

Posted by Dave on November 19, 2005 at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

Fucking spammers. Deleted about 150 spam messages from this blog and others hosted here - some new spam, some old. MovableType's comment management, in version 2.661 at least, is retarded. I had to use SQL to catch the rest of it.

There is a bird or a mouse in the walls - in the fucking walls - of my house. It's movements are keeping me awake until all hours, and in general freaking me out. Bastard.

Copyright © 2003-2006 David Barrett. Valid XHTML & CSS.