Ideal Sweater

I've mentioned a few times that I've been doing more knitting recently. Nothing for the most part to get excited about. But, now that I have a bit more free time its became apparent that I can't write all the time and it's good to have something to do with my hands when other things require a bit of extra attention. An explanation of my current knitting requires a bit of a back story.…

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Better Task Lists

Just about everyone keeps a task list of some sort, or has at some point. To the casual observer, task list management might seems like a simple problem that could be augmented with a little bit of automation for great effect. Fire up your nearest "app store" and I would bet money that you'll find a at least a few developers that have had the same thought. For such a seemingly simple engineering problem there is an inordinate amount of really bad software.…

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Public Transit Information Overload: A Lesson

Philadelphia is replacing, or at least promising to replace, the trains that run the commuter rail system. The new trains are 35-40 years newer than the usual fair, and are replete with "new technologies," one of which is an automated (I believe GPS-based) announcement system, which figures out what station is next, and which line you're on. This is great in theory, but there's a problem. This system gives you too much information.…

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Sweater Stories

I think the difference between writing technical documentation and knitting patterns is not terribly significant, and I've been known to talk at some length about this connection. While I've always been technically inclined, I started writing documentation after learning how to write knitting patterns. In the end, the things you have to know and do to write clear instructions is less about knowing about the technical underpinning, more about the mechanics of writing clear instructions and understanding process abstractly.…

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Hyperlinks

Though short, this week has been pretty good. I've been doing cool things at work, I've been writing and posting blog entries, and fiction(!), I'm on top of email, and the sweater is growing. I hope this isn't just a fluke and that I can keep this up and also expand slightly into doing a bit more reading. Small steps. I've done a little bit of work on the wiki and site.…

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Critical Practice

Being a critic is not simply looking for the points of failure, shortcomings, and breaking points in cultural artifacts (e.g. music, art, literature, software, technology, and so forth.) Criticism is a practice of comparison and rich analysis and a way of understanding cultural production. One might even call criticism a methodology, though "methodologizing" criticism does not give us anything particularly useful, nor does it make any practices or skills more concrete.…

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The Structured and Unstructured Data Challenge

The Debate Computer programmers want data to be as structured as possible. If you don't give users a lot of room to do unpredictable things, it's easier to write software that does cool things. Users on the other hand, want (or think that they want) total control over data and the ability to do whatever they want. The problem is they don't. Most digital collateral, even the content stored in unstructured formats, is pretty structured.…

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