Late Night Coding and Burn Notice

Michael Westen always lays it out clearly in the voiceover. That’s one of the best things about the show, but it happens mostly underneath the layer of story-telling.

That is, we know Michael is going to tell us something. He’s going to give us a hint of what is coming. Usually just before it does, and sometimes revealing a larger plan. And every now and again, he gives us a choice piece of wisdom after the plan hasn’t gone according to .. plan.

I don’t do a lot of late-night coding at the moment.

But here I am, working away, getting distracted as the tiredness weighs down the eyes and the mind.

The problem is I don’t lay it out clear. Sure, there’s an end goal in sight (“Create an Invoicing module”), but from there on it’s react. React. React.

And when you get tired, that leads to mistakes.

What my brain needs, when late at night coding, is a Michael Westen voice-overing the way ahead.

That would be cool.

When Lazy Programming Is Bad

It’s a bit frustrating when people hide behind the “Lazy Programmer” tag.

There is nothing good about bad “lazy” programming.

Discipline yourself in the small things, and it’ll help at 3am when you’re bleary-eyed and trying to work out whether that should be an “equals” or a “not equals” IF statement. Trust me, that’s from more than my fair share of stupidly late nights.

Developer Laziness

It’s such a simple thing to disable and enable a button on a simple dialog window like this one.

1. By default, disable the OK button (because it’s the one that moves you forward and you want the User to make a choice).

2. When a selection is made, enable the button.

3. OR, default to a selection (eg. “U. S. English” in this example) and the logic enables the button.

What’s the big deal?

It’s often the case that Software Developers, sometimes very very good ones, talk about adding polish later.

There is truth in this, but it’s also a bad thing when taken to the extreme.

IF you can’t spare 5 minutes to write the logic for disabling/enabling a button on a simple choice dialog window THEN you are not fulfilling your mighty destiny as a Software Developer ELSE you gain a little bit of experience for the next level (which no doubt has some cool power-ups).

PayPal Noticed Me

30062009101558PM Increasingly I find myself building and advising on web systems as opposed to desktop.

This doesn’t diminish the importance of Desktop development in my books, it just reflects the (not passing) trend of business on the web. It makes sense. And really, it’s all just Development.

A big part of business is making money.

That was some wisdom I dropped on you right there wasn’t it. Don’t clap just yet, the talk isn’t over. Heh heh.

PayPal have been around for quite a while. They are, well, big. Chances are if you’ve bought something online you’ve interacted with Paypal. And if you’ve used them, chances are they’ve helped your business make money.

But regardless of their pedigree, regardless of their massive sway and power, regardless of the fact that chocolate + vanilla icecream is just awesome .. There is a simple reason why I’m writing this post.

PayPal noticed me.

This is a very important point. Not because of me, substitute other names in there. What’s important is that they have gotten smart about today’s web.

30062009101721PM In preparing for Barcamp I noticed a Twitter account for PayPal. Strangely, it wasn’t spouting corporate shillage-speak. Whoever sat behind that Twitter Account was actually interacting with people.

And they talked to me. Before Barcamp (where I fooled everyone into thinking I could sing). And afterwards.

They invited me along to their Australian Developer Days, and I said yes. Signed up today, applied for leave, and had an excellent email conversation with them.

Let me tell you why this is important, although you might’ve already guessed.

PayPal is no longer faceless. They talked to me like a real person. Possibly laughed at me singing a song. Looked at my blog, made reference to a completely different post that needed some searching to find.

This is good PR, good people skills. This wins people over. At the very least, it’s won me over.

30062009101412PM I”m going to the Developer Day mostly as a Developer keen to see what other folk are doing, and to talk about implementation of payment gateways, coding of them, that kind of thing.

One thing I’m interested to find out more about is their API, and using it from a Desktop system, as opposed to a web site/service/system.

But also, I’m going along with the expectation of furthering the relationship I’ve already begun online. Saying g’day, shaking hands, laughing about something or other.

Kudos to PayPal. Thumbs up Sirs + Dames.

So to you humble reader, if you are a Developer, or interested in becoming a Developer, you should look deep within yourself and assign yourself a number based on your .. Urg, wait, that’s Homer spouting out.

The PayPal Developer Days 2009 are being hosted in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The Sydney day is the 20th of July (2009) and the others follow on from there.

Let’s not forget a big huge and massive reason why you, as a fellow Developer, should be attending:

The Developer Days are FREE*! Absolutely without reservation free to attend. No fees.

* This does not include freedom of time or of your brain activity.

Signup Here And Be Excellent.

To everyone reading this post who’s not a Developer (Mum, Visitor #2), I heartily apologise for it’s unashamed geek-factor.

Show vs Book (1)

1006200994416pm There is little doubt in my mind that television shows have as much power of story-telling as books.

And yet there is such a black hole of difference in how they are treated.

When does an author get dropped before finishing the story? Not often.

When does a television show get dropped before finishing the story? All the time.

Sure, there’s the makeup. A handful of people (the Author, Editors and others) versus a small army (Writers, Producers, Directors, Show-Runners, and many more).

There is cost. While making a run of books is expensive, I would imagine it pales when stacked up against the money required for the ensemble of humanoids needed to put together a television show. Happy to be wrong though.

Given that I’ve not done either (written books or created a television series), I’m only fishing around in what I _think_ might be the differences. There’d have to be lots more.

There’s one difference which seems to matter more than anything (or before anything) else.

Advertising.

It clouds the vision. It creates imbalance. It sullies the story.

Stories told through the medium of television would be a lot better off without advertising.

Course, without advertising they wouldn’t get told.

So what’s left? Do the best with what you have. Here’s the linkage between my thoughts and experience. That’s what Castle taught me tonight. We watched an episode where Castle’s book went on sale. His pulp fiction book. And this is what I got out of it. Whatever the medium,

You can write good pulp.

Do You Need Custom web Development Work Done?

It has been a very busy time. I’ve had a lot of night meetings for Church, injured my knee a few weeks back playing rugby, re-started Taels, and started/worked-on other little projects too numerous and beligerant to mention.

One element of the previous weeks that is of special interest is the Contract work that has dropped itself in my lap. 

  • A fellow Clarion user from Europe was referred to me for custom web system work. That is, he needed some Nettalk Webserver work done quick smart, and I got the job.

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  • A Graphic Designer bro asked me to help him get the technical aspects of a blog done. One WordPress install later, with some work customising the fantastic Thesis theme, and the design was ported fine and dandy.

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My confidence is high. With every new task I’m learning all the time. I throw myself into this work with a ferocity and tenacity that is kind of surprising.

What amazes me (because I’m not so big on being big-headed, and never thought I’d be technically competent), is that I’m good at this stuff.

Do you need custom web development done?

I’m your worker bee.

What Is A GUID And Do You Need One?

img-0362 When you’re writing software you’re most often working with data. Sticking data on the screen in a way that benefits the user.

Mostly, data is made up of records. There are six people in my family. So if “Family” is the TABLE, then it has six RECORDS.

One of the most important elements of creating and manipulating data is the Unique Identifier. More simply, you want every record in the table to have a Unique ID field.

Keep going. This post isn’t really about programming. At least, not software programming :)

A Unique ID field says:

“I am unique. There is no other record in this table like me.”

Going further, if you have a bunch of tables within the software, it’s sometimes good to add a Globally Unique Identifier. This is a field that has a value which is unique across the ENTIRE DATABASE.

“I am unique. There is no other record in the entire program like me.”

Uniqueness is a concept that is found in everything. We make standards and rules so that experiments and environments will remain “the same” to a given degree, but in reality, every single thing is unique. Whether that is an experiment in first year Chem, or running the same five miles day in and out, every single experience you have will be unique for yourself and compared to others.

However, as pointed out, we round out our experiences. It’s a good thing to have similar experiences.

I went through a hard time at school. Does that make me unique?

Of course not. My GUID is definitely not the “hard time at school” field.

I did have an experience at school that noone else has ever had, or will ever had. And this is the same for every other person who’s been to school. Ever. In the entire history of the human race. And maybe the Martians too, if they have school.

If the Parent is not unique (I had a hard time at school), then is it relevant to go deeper until we do have uniqueness? Of the fifth of March in that year I stepped out of this door and tripped on that rock and cut myself here. Sure, that’s unique, but does it make me unique?

Are we unique at birth? If so, then Experience is moo(t). And also, out of our control (you could argue that we have some control over our experiences).

For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to say that, YES, we are unique from birth. There is something about our makeup, about us, that is globally (or universe-ally) unique.

Do you care about your GUID?

Some people are quite secure in their uniqueness within a small sphere. It could be a Family circle. Immediate. Perhaps further out into the depths of Extended Family.

Others find that they are comfortably unique within the sphere of their close Friends. This is enough.

There are people who are driven to be recognisably unique on a larger scale. Perhaps it’s becoming President or Prime Minister.

And we’ve switched from what IS (born unique) to what is WANTED (being unique).

Everyone (past and present) has a GUID. From birth, we are unique amongst creation. Both as a segment, a race, of that creation, and as individuals.

Should you care about having a GUID?

I guess it’s a matter of scale.

Your GUID only matters within the sphere of what, or who, you care about.

Circle of friends. Family. Adoring fans. World of Warcraft Guild Buddies.

What’s the point of caring about your uniqueness in all of creation?

For me, the answer to that question is easy. My friends and family, my legions of adoring fans (oh, now i made myself cry a little on the inside), they can’t help me out with that little bump at the end of life.

I want to have a personal, a unique relationship, with whoever is going to help me out.

God is the biggest of scale. He gives the GUID a proper sphere of understanding. And He offers a relationship with each individual GUID, through Christ.

Get yourself a unique relationship with the Developer of Creation.